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Book details
  • Genre:ART
  • SubGenre:Individual Artists / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:58
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098351595

The Psyche’s Gifts

Art, Art Making, and the Journey from Mental Illness to Mental Wellness

by Corinne Lightweaver

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Artist Corinne Lightweaver features a series of artworks that reflect her personal experience while living with mental illness. Working from her unconscious, she uses techniques of paper collage to access, reveal, and artistically document her journey. Through her work, she hopes to spark personal and public conversations about mental illness, reduce stigma, and encourage those who suffer from it to find treatment.


The role of art making in healing is increasingly capturing the medical profession’s imagination and the general public’s interest. What are the possibilities for using the art making process to heal the body and the mind and to communicate the inner experience?

More medical schools now offer programming in narrative medicine, as well as opportunities to hear directly from, and view the art of, artist patients. The profession of art therapy is also gaining more visibility, while lay people are also offering workshops in using creativity for better mental health.

In Corinne Lightweaver’s second book about the healing process of art, the artist documents her personal experience of living with mental illness using the medium of paper collage. Having lived with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder for more than a quarter century, she has learned coping mechanisms—including art—that keep mental illness at bay for most of the time.

Through her artwork, Lightweaver hopes to spark personal and public conversations about mental illness, reduce stigma, and encourage those who suffer to find treatment. The internal experience of mental illness is difficult to describe, but the collage-making process gives Lightweaver uncommon access to her unconscious, allowing her to reveal her journey and shed light on the experience. The 38 color illustrations in this book explore and depict one person’s experience, but the themes are deeply universal, even to those without mental illness.

“Mental wellness is not a destination but rather a strong yet fragile state of being,” said Lightweaver. “I hope my work illustrates the experience of others with mental illness so that they don’t feel so alone. I hope I can also bring my particular experience to the conversation of understanding and destigmatizing mental illness.”


Corinne offers a visual poem in thirty-eight “stanzas” that celebrate creativity as essential medicine to heal the mind. Her collages—inner landscapes of animals, nature, and cultural icons—offer maps to the psyche and give evidence of the journey back to herself. — Terry Wolverton, author, Insurgent Muse: Life and Art at the Woman’s Building

Art that depicts humanity at its most basic is often the most compelling. Corinne Lightweaver’s intelligent work is funny and vicious. These deeply personal collaged images urge the viewer to dive in deeper to find layers of meaning. —Ted Meyer, artist, curator, patient advocate, founder of ArtandMed

By bravely unveiling her vulnerabilities and struggles with mental illness, Corinne has discovered a magic antidote that creates the important connections needed between artist and viewer. Whether you suffer from illness or everyday struggles, I believe this book will uplift your spirits and resonate. —Carol Es, artist and author

Corinne illuminates with courage and vulnerability her inner states of being, bringing the raw energy of the nonverbal, unconscious experience into consciousness, inviting us to engage in conversations about mental illness and how through the gifts of art and psychotherapy one can find healing and transformation. —Victoria Gutierrez-Kovner, PsyD, LCSW, psychoanalyst, psychotherapist

Through her intention to help shed mental illness stigma, Corinne has carefully curated her images in tandem with forthright self-reflection. Her generosity to herself through the act of “re-imagining” and “re-imaging” is indeed her gift to us. —Stacy Nathaniel Jackson, MBA, MFA, poet, playwright, and artist

I am profoundly moved by the rawness with which Corinne explores and exposes her journey with and through mental illness using the medium of collage. The themes in this art are both personal and universal, placing us in the center of the artist’s emotional life as we travel with her through an intimate and deeply humanizing journey. —Sierra Cleveland Smith, MA, Executive Director, Open Paths Counseling Center

About the author
Corinne Lightweaver is an artist, writer, editor, and author. Her artistic journey began in painting, with wildlife as her favorite subject. Her journey also included forays into other media, such as ceramics. Later, she began experimenting with collage and assemblage techniques. In addition to creating and exhibiting her own artwork, she has curated several art and photography exhibits, written about the process of art making, and edited books and articles on the arts, artists, and art conservation. Lightweaver is a graduate of UCLA and Antioch University Los Angeles. She divides her time between Los Angeles and Vashon Island, Washington.

Book Reviews

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Art that asks the viewer to play This book with its engaging art and sparse text drew me into the life of a creative mind. The artist/author seems to be asking me to play with her. She share bits of her thoughts and leaves places for me to add another layer to the art with my own interpretations and connections. She describes a path taken towards healing, mending and joining in the possibilities of life being joyous even as it is challenging. In The Psyche's Gift, Corinne Lightweaver shines her light through the cracks of mental illness and shows how she uses her gift for art to create a trail through mental illness. A trail that includes rhinos and bones, birds and sofas. A trail dark and light. We each make choices of how we find our way through the tall grass to an open space. Corinne gives us encouragement to find that path, by sharing hers with courage, kindness and love. This book is helpful in showing how creativity is a powerful part of each of us and how we can open to that personal power to heal. Read more
THE PSYCHE’S GIFTS Art, Art Making, and the Journey from Mental Illness to Mental Wellness Corrine's book is an important and timely exploration of the ways art can be utilized as a tool of communication as well as an instrument for healing, thus establishing the significant contribution of both art in therapy and art as therapy. Far from dry textbook-like explanations, the narratives at the beginning of the book lay a purposeful foundation upon which the following pages of illustrations easily and seamlessly fit. I enjoyed the personal meanings Corrine shared regarding each collage, successfully navigating the delicate balance between over-explanation and leaving imagery open to personal interpretation. The collages themselves are windows that display layers of beauty and pain, discovery and whimsy, shedding light on the often murky but distinguishable processes and machinations of a mind struggling with mental illness. Corrine shares her journey with clarity, transparency, and gratitude. As an Art Therapist and also someone who navigates the challenges of mental illness, I feel this book is one to read and re-read many times over, and to use as a springboard opening the door to more purposeful approaches to both art and healing. Read more
A Glimpse into Depression and Healing through Art Depression is an oft diagnosed but like all mental illnesses is seldom discussed. To an outsider it seems that a slap on the face from Cher followed by the words, “Snap out of it” are enough to relieve someone of the dark despair that invades their lives, but that is not the case. Depression and the related mental illnesses that can accompany depression can enter one’s life and overwhelm them to a point where they cannot function in society. In the book “The Psyche’s Gifts” Corinne Lightweaver lays bare her history with depression and through thirty-eight works of art shows us her feelings both in the depths of and coming to terms with this most secretive of mental illnesses. The artwork that Corinne shares takes us through a journey that will both enlighten and educate the reader of this deeply personal book. Her honesty and her talent are both evident as one views the images that were created over a ten-year period. One cannot look at this book without being moved by the great personal story that is shared by Corinne and yet one is aware that by sharing these images she is helping herself in coming to understand and deal with her depression. This is a book that can be appreciated by people whether they suffer from depression or not as one can only applaud Corinne not just for her artistic skills, but for her honesty in sharing her journey with us. Read more