Art, Psychotherapy and Psychosis
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Art, Psychotherapy and Psychosis reveals the unique role of art therapy in the treatment of psychosis. Illustrating their contributions with clinical material and artwork created by clients, experienced practitioners describe their work in a variety of settings. Writing from different theoretical standpoints they reflect the current creative diversity within the profession and its links with psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, analytical psychology and psychiatry.
In part I specific issues involved in working with psychosis are explored. These include discussion of the therapeutic relationship, the process of symbolisation, the nature and meaning of art made by psychotic patients and the interplay between words and pictures. Part II recounts the history of art therapy and psychosis, tracing its origins in art, to its present-day role as a respected treatment in psychiatric, community and therapeutic settings.
Art, Psychotherapy and Psychosis extends the existing theory, develops analytical approaches in art psychotherapy and offers innovative perspectives for students and practitioners on the treatment of borderline states as well as psychosis.
and modelling. This was maintained as a private space for the patient, and therapists would disengage from invitations to get involved in what happened there. Each patient was given a folder in which two-dimensional art objects could 42 Art, psychotherapy and psychosis be kept, and a notebook in which thoughts could be written or drawn between individual sessions. If models were made, a box to hold them was provided. The folder formed part of the weekly session with the therapist, regardless
difficult to understand, such as ‘voodoo’, ‘balancing angle’ and ‘out of focus’. He seemed to me to be in a state which another patient had once described as ‘a body without skin’, in which any contact pained him. I understood more of his experience at this time after the Unintegration and containment in acute psychosis 45 work described later had taken place, and I shall now summarise this using his own words as far as possible: He was dead, and had been ever since he was made aware of the
the painting process and the therapist were incorporated into an anal-sadistic maternal transference. This maternal transference was an analuniverse where there are no distinctions. The sadistic mastery in the transference to women/art/therapist was an attempt to replay and counteract his original feelings of powerlessness and helpless impotence at his mother’s seductiveness and departure. His experience of a drugged, ineffectual father not only contributed to the absence of the paternal
lengthy formal analyses in which he tried to demonstrate that the distortions of the configurative urge to be found in psychotic art amounted, in effect, to definitive characteristics. The stylistics of psychotic art were parallel to, and hence an equivalent of, the symptomatology of psychosis. What are the features of psychotic art that Prinzhorn and other pioneer writers in the field singled out as typical, if not symptomatic? Some are matters of content: religious, political or sexual or
assumptions about art itself were severely shaken by his first visit to an art department in a psychiatric hospital in the 1950s. Byrne too grapples with how, when aestheticians refuse ‘the art of the insane’, they provoke questions about the function of art in society and a potential critique of the art world and its values. The excitement which all four art therapists who wrote articles in the catalogue felt in relation to the artworks on view in the The history of art therapy and psychosis