As you know, I have a theory about everything. The fact that I pull most of my theories out of thin air doesn’t ever really bother me.

In my last missive on hormonal rage and refashioning, I theorized that the act of creating helped create an escape hatch for the rage. I stand by this one hundred percent. Prior to that, I went into a far-too-long-winded explanation of why it was necessary for me to refashion a striped bathrobe that made me angry just to look at.

Well, imagine my delight when my philosopher husband shared with me the Freudian notion of sublimation. Freud says that sublimation is when we take our societally unacceptable impulses (Freud always takes everything back to sexual impulses, but plenty of other thinkers link this notion to the displacement of any undesirable or unacceptable behaviors) and learn turn them into socially acceptable actions, in the long-term even retraining the initially unacceptable impulse.

So there is something to this…

At the same time as I was finding some relief from the rage by refashioning, literally, tearing apart something that already existed and turning it into something else (the idea of creating something from scratch does not interest me at all…illustrating the idea that I must destroy something first in order to find comfort…) I started to look into other ways to understand my rage. I found this article about menopausal rage, and there it is said, in black and white, that creativity was a way to help.

There was something to this theory of mine.

So let me go even a tad deeper into my own proprietary and unscientific Theory on the Sublimation of Menopausal Rage and Creativity.

When I was working on my bathrobe refashion, I noticed that the act of taking a seam ripper and removing the sleeves was like opening the valve on a pressure cooker. An initial violent plume of anger escaped and suddenly the bathrobe no longer contained the emotional fumes of my rage about the circumstances of my first child’s birth. Suddenly, it was just a piece of beautiful quality striped fabric. It was a beautiful bathrobe to begin with. Tearing it apart made me feel powerful.

When I was working on that adorable red striped tee-shirt refashion, I felt incredibly powerful as I took scissors to something that was already very cute. It felt almost dangerous…like I was tempting fate. There was a very real chance that I could ruin something perfectly usable, but the danger was worth it to me.

Danger and creativity

In the book Living with a Creative Mind, a deep dive is taken into some of the self-destructive tendencies of artists: drug or alcohol addiction, sex and a litany of bad life choices… New or novel experiences are creative muses to the artist. In their pursuit of a constant outlet for their creativity, the artist will turn to substance abuse to see the same things in new ways, or try dangerous activities in order to feel something new. Danger is a powerful creative muse to the artist.

Danger hops us up on adrenaline. We see the world differently when we have adrenaline pumping through our veins. This new vision spurs on creativity.

And then when we start coming down from the high, our creativity lags. We need more adrenaline. So we pursue something more dangerous…

Granted. All I did was cut apart a cute tee-shirt, right? There is nothing life-threateningly dangerous about this. Yet within minutes of finishing, I had a panicky feeling that I might never be able to top what I had just made.

Ha. I needed my next fix. And FAST.

There is so, so, so much more to this story. I will fill you in on the details tomorrow…

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

4 thoughts on “Sublimation

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