Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

He Shaoji's Postural Way of Writing and Psychological Frustration and Adjustment: Case Study on Calligraphy Literature from a Psychological Approach

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

He Shaoji's Postural Way of Writing and Psychological Frustration and Adjustment: Case Study on Calligraphy Literature from a Psychological Approach

Article excerpt


This paper is to try to study calligraphy literature from a psychological approach. In the future, calligraphy psychology will have a vast space for development in the study of the learning psychology, educational psychology, creative psychology, as well as psychotherapy studies and other areas. Based on frustration theory, the paper explores the close relationship between He Shaoji's way of writing with bent wrist and the frustration in his political career, and points out that his postural way of writing which combines the bent wrist and the force of whole body is a compensation for frustration due to his dismissal from office, as well as the technical basis for his change in calligraphy style in his late years.

Key words: Calligraphy psychology; He Shaoji; Bent wrist; Frustration


As everyone knows, there are always a lot of setbacks in life, big or small. As people are different individuals, the solutions vary when they face setbacks. It's the same with artists, for example, Chinese calligraphers. Facing setbacks in life, painter Xu Wei of the Ming Dynasty committed suicide for nine times, but he did not die and finally became famous for his stipple calligraphy style. At the age of 56, Gao Fenghan's right hand was crippled due to wandering arthritis, but he used his lefthand in calligraphy creation, and shined through history with left-hand handwriting. In the period of the Republic of China, confronted with poverty in life and turbulence of the times, the seal cutting expert Qiao Dazhuang chose to commit suicide in 1948, which is an alternative way to face setbacks. Perhaps, for artists, the best method of adjustment in the face of frustration is to change the techniques in artistic creation. He Shaoji resolved the clashes in life and worked offthe sense of failure with the changes in art techniques. It is safe to say that the frustration confronting He Shaoji and the ensuing adjustment demonstrate the positive effect of psychotherapy.


Frustration theory is one aspect of motivation theory, which mainly studies the content, characteristics, formation and causes of frustration and methods to solve problems. Social psychology assumes that after an individual meets setbacks, his emotional state arising from the failure in satisfaction of motives would find an outlet. Individual behavioral responses after setbacks have many types: In addition to aggression which is a common response, there is regression, compensation, repression and the like. When an individual suffers setbacks in a particular field or activity, he will change direction to achieve success in other an activities, so as to compensate for the lost inner balance resulted from failure, and this is called compensation. Compensation is not only restricted to the individuals concerned, sometimes when it is difficult to make up for some deficiencies, people who suffer from frustrations might turn to their loved ones to get the compensation. (Social Psychology Editing Group, 2003, pp.127-128)

With life experience of He Shaoji, it can be found that his frustration in political career begins with his dismissal from office at the age of 55 in Sichuan. After that, He Shaoji once had repressed emotions, and the idea to retire, but in the process of mental adjustment, it is the compensation psychology that plays the main role. He used the change in art techniques to compensate for the pain of his dismissal. Therefore, it is appropriate to use frustration theory to examine the mood of He Shaoji in his last months in Sichuan. Likewise, this approach is perhaps universal in methodology to study the psychology of other calligraphers in history.

The sentence that can best express He Shaoji's state of mind is in the poem "I will visit Mountain Emei"- "How mad the temper of the ape and deer is, running fast as if flying in the vast." The ape and deer here are a symbol of the free spirit. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.