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  • Writer's picturekyle Hailey

AI as Therapy : The Hero's (Mid ) Journey

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

Creating is a fundamental human impulse that gives life meaning and purpose. Without the ability to create, individuals may experience feelings of depression and a sense of lack of direction. But what happens when we empower people to tap into their creative potential? The results can be transformative, leading to a greater sense of fulfillment and purpose. What happens when we enable people to create easily and open up the world of imagination to actual creation?

Donald Trump as a Bunny in Pink Bathrobe

This portrait of Donald Trump as bunny in a bathrobe might seem to have little to do with art and therapy, but it's actually the epitome of art therapy. Making this image help me reduce stress and anxiety and laugh a little.

Few people in the public realize therapeutic value of Midjourney. It is estimated that for over 30% of Midjourney use is just therapeutic. How do we know? We look at the prompts and contact people. By default the prompts used to generated Midjourney images are public (unless you pay for extra for private mode).

For example, someone prompts “Maltese dog in heaven”. Hmm, that’s an interesting prompt. We reach out to them and ask why they prompted that and they respond “My Maltese dog just died, and I was imagining him in heaven”. Then we ask “‘so sorry to hear that, all you all right?” and they respond “yes, using Midjourney to process through his death has been so useful.”

Another person is prompting “temple of donuts". We ask "why?". I'm an atheist and I don’t understand religion and worship. I’m trying to understand. I’m mixing things I understand with things I don’t understand and so I’m making a temple of donuts!"

People are using Midjourney to work through things in their lives.There is a lot of tragedy out there. We are just coming out of two years of Covid and it seems like few of us have been immune to trauma over those two years. I know for myself , those two years were more traumatic than I could have ever imagined. My levels of anxiety were off the charts. Then I found Midjourney in August and was pulled in immediately and it was crazy. My levels of anxiety plummeted. I’m meeting more and more people in the Midjourney community who are saying it has reduced their depression and/or anxiety. So many others are on a spectrum which has helped their ability to concentrate and/or communicated and are finding that Midjourney by helping them organize their thoughts, increases their productivity, communicate better and overall makes them happier. I love Midjourney as it allows me to communicate with images. Often something someone post reminds me of an image and where as before, I'd just move along, now I can respond with an image. I think visually and am comfortable communicating visually. Writing is a challenge to me.

chocolate Putin
chocolate Putin

People are using Midjouney to work through things There is a lot of tragedy in the world and people are working through it. It was interesting when Russia invaded Ukraine. When that happened there was a flood of Putin images and they weren’t bloody Putin images. They were like chocolate Putin images!? We ask why and to one users and the were like “I don’t know. I like chocolate, I don’t know how I feel about Putin right now, and chocolate is helping me think about what is going on in the world.”

People are making images to think about things.

For example people make a lot of Trump images, but what is really going on here?

Are they trying to put those images on the internet to affect change? No.

These images are making them feel a little better , a little less anxious.

Just yesterday I saw someone posted an image of “Donald Trump as a fluffy rabbit in a pink nightgown” . It was funny and cute, so I made one and the results made me laugh. I felt better.

People feel a little less anxious after making the images. For example they say “ Trump is a baby” and then they make an image of a baby Trump. Then they are like “here is a baby trump, yeah, some people are just babies like this guy”. Then they go through their day feeling a little better. It’s therapeutic. People have a lot of internal things going on and for them it is a way to externalize those things. The therapy side of Midjourney is important because most people don’t have outlets in the world to work through things.

The demographics are also interesting. Considering that Midjourney can only be used with the program Discord which is a chat services uses primarily by people under 18 , we expected the demographic to be mainly younger than 18, but there are as many users over 45 as under 18.


The way people are using Midjourney over time is interesting. It’s like the hero’s journey, or the hero’s midjourney. People start out with something like “I love cats. I’m going to make cats. Wow these cats are great! Cats, cats, cats ....” until they get tired of cats. Then they say something like “I like cyberpunk. Wow these cyberpunk images are great.” Then they create cyberpunk, cyberpunk cyberpunk. Then finally they are like “hey !?!? what abou


t .... get this ... cyberpunk cats!” and then “cyber punk dogs !”, then "cyber punk samurai!“. Then they are like ”cyberpunk is not me , I never liked cyber punk“. Then they see an art deco cat. ”Art Deco? Am I Art Deco? How about Vapor Wave? Am I Vapor Wave? Who am I?“ Then they try to find an aesthetic that represents them and finally they start to figure

vapor wave

some things out. Then they think about something like ”chair, I like cha

art deco
art deco

irs, chairs are cool, how about an art deco chair? how about an art deco chair in a futuristic cafe?“ Its a whole process. Users go through an evolution in 3 months that artists go over in 10 years.” It’s is rapidly evolving our sense of selves and aesthetics.

People often start out by prompting an image in the style of their favorite artist. What few people realize is that after 3 months, no users prompts a single artist. After 3 months , 100% of users are prompting multiple artists at a time, and multiple styles at a time. There might be 20 artists in a users prompt that has been using Midjourney for 3 months. It because their favorite artist wasn’t their style. Sure they like some parts of that artists style, but there is more to their own personal aesthetic . they are trying to understand what appeals

to them. When the prompt a style or artist over and over it’s like they are reflecting on themselves, they are mulling it over, chewing on the bone of an idea until they have digested it, then the move on taking what they have learned to incorporate in their own personal aesthetic. For example , people don’t want to live in an H R Giger world permanently, and by prompting H R Giger they learn what attracts them to that style and what it means. It’s a type of self reflection and awareness.

Its not really about art.

It’s about imagination.

It’s the artists journey.

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Clark Suprynowicz
Clark Suprynowicz
Dec 19, 2022

I would like to submit a critique. Thanks to Toshi Anders Hoo and also to Steven Zapata for spurring me to do a bit of detective work. Here's what I've learned about text-to-image programs like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion.

Common Crawl is a a San Francisco-based non profit that provides copyrighted images to Stable Diffusion, as does LAION (another non profit, but this one in Germany). Nonprofits Common Crawl and LAION are given legal exemption from laws protecting copyrighted images: they are allowed to access and make records of such images for "research purposes," which for-profit companies like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion cannot.

There are legal and ethical transgressions built into the business model of these companies. These…

Dustin D Wilkinson
Dustin D Wilkinson
Jan 08, 2023
Replying to

This kind of behavior (and others) are MUCH more pressing for humanity to care about IMO (of course) Artists? SUBJECTIVE! (and becoming more and more irritating too :( ) <3

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