This 2 min film, with Anthony Hopkins, shows the toxic role the Critic or Censor can play in our internal cast of characters. As a young dancer tries out her moves, she is beaten up verbally by a malevolent Anthony Hopkins. She’s left literally lying on the floor, as Hopkins urges her to “go on, dance.” Although the film (based on a play) was originally made to protest against state censorship, I believe that there is a similar kind of censorship that takes place inside us and it equally needs our vigilance.
Perhaps The Censor is hard to spot in ourselves, (it often sounds scarily like the voice of good reason), but we probably hear it in those around us. The statements are common to us all… “It’s not good enough, why should I, it will never work, don’t be silly, who do you think you are, that’s useless, no good, that’s a waste of time, you’re just playing etc…” If the Censor kills off the urge and impetus to try in the first place, we inevitably don’t put in the hard work afterwards. And it’s only the craft and graft of practice, that can make anything better. Inspiration must be fleshed out and made real through repetition and practice- this is just what is required in the creative process. The Censor potentially kills off both beginnings and endings.
If we don’t engage with clumsy starts and accept our inevitable mistakes, then we have failed before we have begun. For this reason, the Inner Censor in whatever guise it takes must be met in our psyche. We need to make him/her/it visible because if we can see it, then it might stop wielding such power over us. Art therapy can help us visualise our own particular Censor as well as build up powerful Counter-Agents as self-support. Then they can start to have the necessary dialogue, to enable us to build some kind of welcoming committee for new and precious, or old and forgotten ideas and emerging parts of ourselves. Unless we do, we remain vulnerable, not only to critical attacks inside, but those of people outside.