Acting Beyond Psychiatry

Peter Valentino Actor Training Blog

Expression is the answer to depression; it’s right there in the Latin. Yet, we hear so much these days about psychiatric so-called illnesses and their “cures” —pills. These disorders have been falsely created by a network of psychiatrists who have negatively influenced our culture with their labels of people. I hear people often say: that’s narcissistic, you’re being ADHD, he’s totally OCD, ADD,etc…Or the king of them all, Bipolar. These are catchphrases which have been marketed to us by drug companies through psychiatrists in order to sell various chemical compounds. They also exist on another level for the purpose of controlling society: by changing peoples moods, and in general, both depressing and overexciting society. A drugged society is easier to herd.

I want people to know that many of the emotional lows or stresses that people go through are transient.

This KISS formula is: Joy cures sadness, and Courage (see En-courage) alleviates anxiety (fear).

We all have an emotional makeup. In acting class, we are going through emotional situations, and we learn that we can go into them and come out of them. We can see, therefore, that it has to do with how we’re thinking, how we’re behaving, what is this character doing in their life that is creating this emotional state? This conflict, trauma, sadness, anger…or elation. Because that’s definitely a part of it, too. The actor has to portray all of these things. Thus, I want to say here to all Actors. You must 100% avoid any psychotropic drugs that are given by a psychiatrist. These things numb your emotions: they are for the purpose of flattening your emotional spectrum, and if taken by the Actor, can kill the lifeblood of the Art. It is almost impossible to really act and to do it well when something else is calling the shots.

That is why we talk about yoga, movement, and balance…physical balance, emotional balance, a balanced diet and lifestyle.

Balance begets Balance.

Also, in the acting class itself, we are creating the atmosphere of family-like support and encouragement. This has long been a part of what makes theatre tick. You have this knowledge that you’re there for other actors to help them get through some behavior that’s difficult for them to feel or portray. Oftentimes it’s difficult for people to show anger, to allow themselves to be sad in a part. And in acting class, you’re doing that in a group which becomes a representation of society; there’s a social reality to it. And this is highly important to acting instruction. A lot of times people think they can just get that online. Somebody the other day said in class, “I thought I could just get this through, “I…”  something online classes. And he saw how different it was to actually be there! You see, online classes just amplify your sense of isolation. And all these problems of depression and anxiety come from a sense of isolation. Acting is a social skill, and it takes a group of people to create this Art. Learning to become a “people person” is a good idea.

When you come to class and you’re creating around other people you start to accept that- yes! – This is a group of people who can change their emotional structure, who can behave in different ways and have conscious choice over that. It’s really an eye-opening experience, and there is certainly nothing like it on the face of the Earth.

In summation, I would like to say that everything that you go through emotionally is completely Natural for you to go through. It’s blocking Emotions that creates the problem. If you ignore your Emotions, or drug them, they will not go away. Your Emotions are there as part of your Human equipment. They are both your pain and your passion, and one may change into the other. But we were not intended to have emotion-less or pain-free lives. Everybody is going to have a sense of loss when somebody dies or as a result of a relationship breakup. And then there are also stresses from what we would consider good things: childbirth, relationships coming together, etc. All these things can produce anxiety, and maybe even depression. But when we are there for each other, that is the key. I have to say here that John Lennon was right about, “All you need is love”. That is what helps us through these things, so we want to allow ourselves the freedom of our Emotions, not to flatten or destroy them—but actually allow ourselves to understand our feelings so that we can better experience life as human beings