An Emergency in Slow Motion: The Inner Life of Diane Arbus

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Sep 6, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 256 pages
Diane Arbus was one of the most brilliant and revered photographers in the history of American art. Her portraits, in stark black and white, seemed to reveal the psychological truths of their subjects. But after she committed suicide at the age of 48, the presumed chaos and darkness of her own inner life became, for many viewers, inextricable from her work.
In the spirit of Janet Malcolm's classic examination of Sylvia Plath, The Silent Woman, William Todd Schultz's An Emergency in Slow Motion reveals the creative and personal struggles of Diane Arbus. Schultz, an expert in personality psychology, veers from traditional biography to look at Arbus's life through the prism of five central mysteries: her childhood, her outcast affinity, her sexuality, her time in therapy, and her suicide. He seeks not to give Arbus some definitive diagnosis, but to ponder some of the private motives behind her public works and acts. In this approach, Schultz not only goes deeper into her life than any previous writing, but provides a template to think about the creative life in general.
Schultz's careful analysis is informed, in part, by the recent release of Arbus's writing by her estate, as well as interviews with Arbus's last therapist. An Emergency in Slow Motion combines new revelations and breathtaking insights into a must-read psychobiography about a monumental artist -- the first new look at Arbus in 25 years.

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User Review  - VikkiLaw - LibraryThing

Does anyone else horrified that Arbus's therapist was willing to share her insight and session analyses with the author? I thought that client-patient info was privileged, even after death. I'd never ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - scottapeshot - LibraryThing

Schultz is a dogged analyst, fixated on certain facets of Arbus' life and personality, in order to explain her unique artistic choices and her unfortunate demise. However, he lacks the larger vision ... Read full review


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About the author (2011)

William Todd Schultz is a professor of psychology at Pacific University in Oregon, focusing on personality research and psychobiography. He edited and contributed to the groundbreaking Handbook of Psychobiography, and curates the book series Inner Lives, analyses of significant artists and political figures. His own book in the series, Tiny Terror, examines the life of Truman Capote. Todd Schultz blogs for Psychology Today.

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