Performing can be a way of letting go of one's sense of self.
A study of 234 performing-arts professionals found those who experienced intense childhood trauma—about 18 percent of the participants—reported higher levels of anxiety and internalized shame. But "they were also more fantasy prone, a factor that may enhance creativity," write Paula Thomson of California State University–Northridge and S.V. Jaque of York University.
Additionally, for these artists, "the creative process was intensified and (highly) valued," the researchers write in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. They "enjoyed the creative performance experience, which may indicate more creative resilience."
All participants described their experience of the creative process, including their ability to get into a "flow state" in which they are fully engaged in their art. The researchers found significant differences between those who experience three or fewer forms of abuse, and those who suffered four or more.
Looking at the more practical elements of the creative process, the researchers found those with very traumatic childhoods held their own with their peers. They were fully able to "establish appropriate goal setting," positively respond to feedback, and "fully concentrate on the task at hand."
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