confession don’t confuse personal journals with art

Confession is not Art.

“I suffer from PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. I have never told anyone before, so here we are.. I have been searching for ways to heal myself, and I have found that kindness is the best way.” Performer Lady Gaga speaking to homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex youths (LGBTI) in New York. Two years ago she publicly spoke about being raped as a teenager.1

These days, Twitter, Facebook and all the rest of the ‘social media’ keep us on the edge of our seat of consciousness with what you ate for breakfast, ‘influencers’ offering creative insights, and up-to-the-minute news of the world on what’s ‘trending’. The result is a mind numb and a body bored with an endless run of compulsive public disclosures, like diarrhoea, that a world glamoured by the Cult of Youth thinks is interesting.

Not to thinking people.

Displays of poorly crafted performance, publishing of first-drafts of tormented poems, shallow songs2 and sensational, confessional novels are not art. And, no thanks. I do not want to listen to your 13-year old son who has been learning guitar for 6 months play me a song. How proud you must be.

The problem is more subtle in psychotherapy. But it’s the same adolescent dressed in more expensive clothes. The search for meaning, finding only the me part:

“The word confession from fassus bears the root pha (greek) and bha (sanskrit), ‘show’, ‘light’, ‘shine’. It is the confessional literary genre of showing.. As soon as we start to confess, we enter this genre, and then we must struggle with finding the true ‘me’ hidden in the closet of personal feelings.

Here, confessional psychology literalises the notion of revelation as a bringing to show.. Confessional psychology misses the fact that I am already revealed in my selbstdarstellung. Revelation already given with existence – not a task. Every move we make, phrase we utter, is confession of our heart because it reveals our images..

In the practice of religion, confession is immediately followed  by prayer. Recognition and repentance are not therapeutic enough; confession corrects personal experience but does not remove us from it.. Psychotherapy stops short. It invites confession and omits prayer. The religious impulse is provoked and then unsatisfied.. (thus) it turns therapy into an addictive repetition.” 

James Hillman, ‘The Thought of the Heart’. pp27-30


1. Mail & Guardian newspaper, December 9-14 2016 p23.

2. ‘I really really really really really really like you / And I want you, do you want me, do you want me, too? / I really really really really really really like you / And I want you, do you want me, do you want me, too.’ Smart!  Carly Rae Jepsen 2012. By comparison, this is mild. It is easy to find better examples.  Like Big Sean