Dancing with Ophelia: Reconnecting Madness, Creativity, and Love by Jeanne Ellen Petrolle
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Overview: Uses real-life episodes of psychosis and recovery to show how poetic paradigms for thinking about psychiatric symptoms can enlarge contemporary understandings of mental illness and improve long-term treatment outcome.
“Twenty-two years ago, I lost my mind.” So begins Jeanne Ellen Petrolle’s fascinating personal narrative about her mental illness and recovery. Drawing on literature, art, and philosophy, Petrolle explores a unique understanding of madness that allowed her to achieve lasting mental health without using long-term psychiatric drugs.
Traditionally, Western literature, art, and philosophy have portrayed madness through six concepts created from myth – Escape into the Wild, Flight from a Scene of Terror, Visit to the Underworld, Dark Night of the Soul, Spiritual Passion, and Fire in the Mind. Rather than conceptualizing madness as “illness,” a mythopoetic concept assumes that madness contains symbolic meaning and offers valuable insight into human concerns like love, desire, sex, adventure, work, fate, spirituality, and God. Madness becomes an experience that unleashes extraordinary creativity by generating the spiritual insight that fuels artistic productivity and personal transformation. By weaving her personal experiences with the life stories and work of surrealist painter Leonora Carrington and modernist novelist Djuna Barnes, Petrolle shows how poetic thinking about severe mental distress can complement strategies for managing mental illness. This approach allowed her, and hopefully others, to produce better long-term treatment outcomes.
Genre: Non-Fiction > Biographies & Memoirs