Living Data: <br> Relationship

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Living Data:

2017 Conversations

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"Few will doubt that humankind has created a planet-sized problem for itself.
No one wished it so, but we are the first species to become a geophysical force,
altering Earth's climate, a role previously reserved for tectonics, sun flares, and glacial cycles."
E. O. Wilson, 1998. Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
p. 277-278

Inner scientist and inner artist

Sunday 26th June 2017. Rozelle School of Visual Arts, Sydney

Musician and psychologist Alison O'Carroll believes we're at our best
when we're at perfect balance between art and science.


Alison O'Carroll (right) talks with Lisa Roberts.



For me, psychology is an art. It's an improvisation process in collaboration with the patient or the client. I'm talking about long-term psychotherapy. It's very much a self-discovery process. It's creative. It's also scientific, because you have to keep to the frame. For me it's the perfect balance of science and art. And it's not different from music. For me it's a natural progression. But I've also realised, I haven't had to choose one or the other. I still play music at home. I work in a psychiatric hospital. I take my violin to the psychiatric hospital and do a sound meditation with it. I play music at home with my children. We do concerts together, for the school, and for my elderly parents and parents-in-law.

You know, there's this really famous psychoanalyst [Wilfred Bion] who said, famously, "To do psychotherapy it takes two terrified people to be in the room". I think he meant that to be really creative, and to go where you've never gone before, it's only natural to be terrified.


So we have to develop a language to talk about what we mean by these aspects of our nature that can interact [the inner scientist and inner artist]. And that's, to me, an experience I have, in my whole body. I've got this analytic voice, and this other body just wanting to respond without thinking. Is there a language in your field, of psychoanalytic...


I don't know. But I'm just thinking how ultimately we're at our best when we're at perfect balance between art and science. But doing collaborations like between you and Bill [Gladstone] - you as an artist, Bill as a scientist - it provides a really great external template for that process that we can then internalise. That would be great. And so this is how a lot of the psychology I'm into acknowledges that our external experiences provide templates for an internal representation of that... Our parents are internalised; we build up internal personalities from the ones that we have in our external world. So you as an artist collaborating with a scientist, you have an external process going on there, which is really going to benefit both you and Bill. It could become an external template for how that process can work. So, I can imagine you interacting with Bill would be strengthening your scientific - your inner scientist - and it will be strengthening Bill's inner artist. So I can imagine it being a really enjoyable, exciting, frustrating and difficult process.


Alison O'Carroll improvises in the dance studio at the Rozelle School of Visual Arts, Sydney.