© 2018 E. Hitchcock Scott, PhD., MEd., LPCC917, ATR-BC, REAT
Diptych: Ruined and Improved I & II
Submission to an Art Exhibition for Psychotherapists
Oil Paint on Masonite
10″ X 20″
Completing research on the topic of self-mutilation in 1999, by women who have a dissociative identity disorder was fraught with the normal challenges of research writing. Yet, due to the complex trauma and profound dissociation experienced by the research participants, there were additional mirrors of complexity reflected in the process of data analysis.
As a clinician, I had not realized how helpless I would feel in the role of researcher. As a researcher, versus seasoned therapist, I was not able to intervene, offer treatment or soothing statements, or even (the lowest form of counseling) a temporary quick fix solution. My job was to be an objective listener, to record, and document.
In each interview, I heard explicit, detailed, and often excruciating truths about how people physically hurt themselves. I listened to these stories uninterrupted, for four to five hours at a time.
As I listened to women describe scraping their skin, sometimes down to bone, I felt scraped down to the core of myself. I had no defense.
This painting is dedicated to those who hurt themselves and struggle to recover, those who cut, burn, scald, scratch and break their bones.
I select this painting because I thought I had ruined it and then – upon reflection – I realized that this painting is better now than it was. This awareness, that the painting was improved instead of ruined, is a golden shadow of the expression I see in the face of clients as they realize they have made progress.
Also, this is my first oil painting in 3 decades. I imagine that the anxiety I felt while trying a new medium (an oil painting vs. oil pastels or acrylic) might parallel the effort of trying a new way of being, such as feeling intense emotions in ways that enhance growth.