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The Scream!

How can I talk about Munch's Anxiety, 1894 and not mention The Scream, right? I completely agree with you. Beside The Scream in the Munch Museum is a placard that states the following:

"One Evening I walk along a Hillside Path near - Kristiania [now known as Oslo] - together with two Friends. It was a Time during which Life had ripped open my Soul- The Sun went down - had dipped quickly - below the Horizon - It was as if a Flaming Sword of Blood cut across the Firmament - The Air turned to Blood - with cutting Veins of Flame - The Hillsides became a deep blue - The fjord - cut in a cold blue - yellow and red Colours - That shrill, bloody red - on the Road and the Railing. The Faces of my Friends became a garish yellow - white - I felt a huge Scream - and I really did hear a huge Scream - The Colours in Nature - broke the Lines in Nature - the Lines and Colours quivered with Movement. These Vibrations of Light caused not only the Oscillation of my Eyes - my Ears were also affected and began to vibrate so I actually heard a Scream - Then I painted The Scream -" E. Munch

Munch translated the scream he felt and heard with his palette; whereas, I translate the screams I feel with my pen. About 6 years ago, I learned about James Pennebaker, a psychologist at the University of Texas, who conducted a series of experiments that scientifically demonstrated how "expressive writing" improves the immune system, reduces blood pressure, improves lung and liver functions, reduces the number of days in a hospital, improves mood/affect...The list goes on and if you're curious to learn more click here for a brief article from The Business Insider and/ or if you want to delve deeper into the scientific data click here to read a comprehensive article published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment (2005). Pennebaker has also written several books, but I haven't read them...yet.

When I was growing up I was taught to wash my hands before eating, eat my fruits and veggies, clean and cover a cut, and trust that bumps and bruises will heal in time. Nobody, though, gave me advice on how to care for my emotional wellbeing. Growing up, I had no idea how to tend to screams of frustration, fears, worries and anger, but I did the best I could. My parents generously signed me up for all the dance classes I wanted to take, and I quickly realized that dancing (even to this day) helped me work through challenging emotional states. I also had the great fortune of having Mrs. Contey for a third grade teacher. She consistently praised my abilities to write and, as a result of her validation, I continued to write for fun at home with even more vigor. I learned early on that moving my body and stream-of-conscious writing were critical in helping me move through emotional quagmires so I didn't remain stuck for too long.

I write this post with the hopes that you will feel inspired to lift your pen and begin to write. Step into the fog! Let that scream move through you! There's no wrong way to begin. You simply begin where you are. The Business Insider article gives the specific prompt Pennebaker gave his subjects, as well as specific guidelines, which led his subjects to have such a marked improvement in their physical and mental health. Dr. John Sarno in his book The Divided Mind also suggests stream-of-conscious writing and blasting onto the page anything that is upsetting you, making you angry etc.

I am going to write another post that includes several lighthearted prompts because I don't want this one to be too lengthy.

Photo of The Scream taken at the Munch Museum, Oslo

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