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Psychodynamic processes of self portraiture:Case study and applications

Psychodynamic processes of self portraiture:Case study and applications

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Published by O. Douglas Jennings
Between age 16 and 25, I drew numerous self portraits. Along with these drawings I
kept a diary sporadically during those years in an almost desperate struggle to make meaning out of the conflicts in my life. Six years after the last self portrait sketch of that near decade, I realize I have an intriguing visual record of my own perceptions of myself and of my own inner development. Besides the (1) establishment of a significant reacord, I would propose that the exercise of self portraiture during my transition into young adulthood helped (2) gain a sense of participation and control in my developmental process (this aspect of self portraiture could have therapeutic value). In addition it helped me (3)initiate affirmative self examination and inner dialog. I believe it (4) heightened my empathy for others as well as my powers of sensitivity. And, besides the above psychological benefits, the exercise of "self imaging" stretched and (5) enhanced my skills of artistic observation.
Between age 16 and 25, I drew numerous self portraits. Along with these drawings I
kept a diary sporadically during those years in an almost desperate struggle to make meaning out of the conflicts in my life. Six years after the last self portrait sketch of that near decade, I realize I have an intriguing visual record of my own perceptions of myself and of my own inner development. Besides the (1) establishment of a significant reacord, I would propose that the exercise of self portraiture during my transition into young adulthood helped (2) gain a sense of participation and control in my developmental process (this aspect of self portraiture could have therapeutic value). In addition it helped me (3)initiate affirmative self examination and inner dialog. I believe it (4) heightened my empathy for others as well as my powers of sensitivity. And, besides the above psychological benefits, the exercise of "self imaging" stretched and (5) enhanced my skills of artistic observation.

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: O. Douglas Jennings on Apr 25, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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Doug Jennings, REACH, D-28
21
Psychodynamic processes of self portraiture:Case study and applicationsby Doug JenningsREACH
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2/27/92
 
Doug Jennings, REACH, D-28
1
Psychodynamic processes of self portraiture:Case study and applicationsby Doug Jennings
Between age 16 and 25, I drew numerous self portraits. Along with these drawings Ikept a diary sporadically during those years in an almost desperate struggle to make mean-ing out of the conflicts in my life. Six years after the last self portrait sketch of that neardecade, I realize I have an intriguing visual record of my own perceptions of myself andof my own inner development. Besides the
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,I would propose that the exercise of self portraiture during my transition into young adult-hood helped
(2) gain a sense of participation and control in my developmental process
 (this aspect of self portraiture could have therapeutic value).
 
In addition it helped me
(3)
LQLWLDWHDIÀUPDWLYHVHOIH[DPLQDWLRQDQGLQQHUGLDORJ
. I believe it
(4) heightened myempathy for others
as well as
my powers of sensitivity
. And, besides the above psycho-logical benefits, the exercise of "self imaging" stretched and
(5) enhanced my skills of artistic observation
.Self portraiture has been practiced by artists for centuries. Where pertinent to mytopic, I will refer to two notable cases of self portraiture from art history: Rembrandt andVan Gogh. Of all the great artists, this duo left perhaps the most interesting legacies to theart of self portraiture.I have included two appendices featuring numerous samples of my work. Also,throughout the following text, I have placed reproductions of selected self-portraits to il-lustrate examples discussed.
1
 
R
ECORD
 
OF
T
RANSITION
:
Tracing the Divine Thread
 
Doug Jennings, REACH, D-28
2
My 1976-1985 self portraits sustain for me a life-stage record that is expressiveand visual, spanning, like a panorama, the significant passage of my transition from ado-lescent to young adult . Each portrait is a symbol, a mile marker to which I can point andremember that I am a creature of process and in process.In analyzing this past experience, I was greatly aided by the book 
The Seasons of aMan's
 
Life
by Daniel J. Levinson (Ballantine books, 1978) for providing information onthe developmental stages of adulthood. From that resource, I could more fully understandthe significance of the turmoil I was going through during the period that I recorded myown image so frequently.Levinson's research revealed that between the ages of 17 and 22 a man goes throughthe
 Early Adult Transition
. This is a transition between late childhood and early adulthoodduring which one must separate himself from his parents and step into the adult world tobegin establishing a separate identity, and vocation among other elements of what Levinsoncalls the
life structure
. (Levinson, pp. 72-78)My self portraits began at age 16 and ended just before age 25 which easily overlapsthe Early Adult Transition phase and spills over into the more stable phase of building myfirst life structure. (Levinson, pp. 78-84)It is significant that recording one's life stages in self-portraiture has vital precedentin artistic tradition. Rembrandt left perhaps the most "biographical renderings" of any greatpainter. His self-portraits record the years from his mid twenties until the year of his deathat age sixty-five. This visual "imprint" of his journey through time is remarkable enoughaside from his more celebrated works.The Dutch master's last self-portrait gives us an extra-ordinary view of a man whohad suffered miserable losses in life. Besides financial ruin, Rembrandt suffered the loss

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