Sunday, August 10, 2008

This morning I received an email from a friend in Norway whose son is in the hospital for drug addiction. There are a variety of things that come into play in understanding why such things happen. I am not a psychologist, and no one in their right academic mind set would apply much value to the blogging of a craftsman...

You might listen if I were to tell you how to cut a perfect miter, but distrust my advice beyond my certified credentials. So much for common sense. As a culture we have banished it along with school wood shop. But I am compelled to share my common sense despite my lack of credentials.

Every artist and craftsman I know (and I know a lot) use their work to moderate and control their feelings and mental outlook. If you are an artist or craftsman you can look to your own experience to test the principle. By getting lost in our work, transcending the sense of self, losing all track of time in our creative efforts we generate the same neurohormones that we excite through mind altering drugs and alcohol. From the standpoint of evolution, these neurohormones have been the driving force of human culture, leading us to make the choices of craftsmanship and creativity on which our civilization is based. But when those neurohormones and their generation in the human body are distorted, delivered in large doses and with ease through the ingestion of pharmacological substances rather than earned through behavior and expressed through craftsmanship, the consequences are tragic.

I've told this story before. When mass produced goods from England and German were introduced in Sweden, diminishing the value of "hemsloyd", home crafted work, Sweden faced major social upheaval, with many turning to the manufacture of liquor to generate the income lost through the devaluation of their hand craft industries. The damage done can be long term. For evidence look at the alcoholism and its consequences for the American Indian. This same process, undermining personal creativity has taken place over and over, culture after culture throughout the world. We are genetically encoded to seek the pleasure from the neurohormones that drive our species toward personal and collective creativity.

We ignore the needs of our children for creative expression only to introduce and enforce their tragic addiction to other things.


  1. Hi Doug. There is a commonly held belief that many artists use drugs to aide creativity. I've known many in my life too, and very few (especially successful ones) who actually do.

    Or else I am very naive.

  2. Is running my blog creative?

  3. Have You ever seen the book, Crafts and Creative Media in Therapy? There is actually not a lot of discussion in it, only about 55 pages but there are several long lists of references at the ends of chapters. The bulk of the book presents concrete craft ideas and how to use them. That section is way oversimplified for my use and I'm sure for yours. Several appendices are at the back. I believe the most value is in the references at the ends of chapters.

  4. I will look for that book. I often find that references lead one in interesting directions. I think the therapeutic value of crafts is often overlooked.