The intersubjectivity of spiritual experience in the art practice of people with histories of mental distress: A phenomenological study
Sagan, O. (2015) The intersubjectivity of spiritual experience in the art practice of people with histories of mental distress: A phenomenological study. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 19(2), pp. 138-149.
The therapeutic outcomes gained through engaging with the art making process are well documented. Somewhat less probed are the auxiliary and sometimes enigmatic experiences of art making that impact on the sense of mental wellbeing; experiences which, by their nature, can be difficult to capture. This paper discusses such experiences, described by a group of art makers with histories of mental illness, as being spiritual in nature. A phenomenological approach using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) methodology was used, with Heideggerian concepts of 'Dasein' (There-being) and 'Mitsein' (With-being) informing an interpretation of the intersubjective. Such experiences were felt to be profound, and were often claimed to be accessible exclusively through an art practice that was sustained over a number of years of regular activity. The paper concludes by pointing out the difficulty in capturing evidence of sustained, non-clinical strategies for wellbeing such as those developed as an inherent part of the experiences reported here, due to their nuanced nature and the reluctance with which they may be narrated.