Suffering Through Art


Many of the most iconic stories and songs of all time have been inspired by gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak — and the silver lining of these challenges is that they may have been the catalyst to create great art. There’s often angst of one type or another behind any great art.

The rest of us get to benefit from their suffering.

There can be some intrinsic value to suffering. The psychology of post-traumatic growth suggests that many people are able to use their hardships and early-life trauma for substantial creative growth. Specifically, researchers have found that trauma can help people to grow in the areas of interpersonal relationships, spirituality, appreciation of life, personal strength, and — most importantly for creativity — seeing new possibilities in life.

Then there is the art.

Check out this link. It’s a less than three minute interview snip with Phil Collins from 2007 about a song he wrote circa 1979 in the band Genesis (listen all the way to the end) around the time his marriage was breaking up. The ad hoc performance is a little raw, but that only goes to further illustrate the point. The song was nearly 20 years old at this time and the pain is still evident. Guilt and regret hanging over someone who has been staggeringly successful by nearly any measure one can put on it. Phil and others have made careers out of suffering through their art.

But sometimes there is just the art. And sometimes there is just the suffering.

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