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Wittenberg, R. (1978). Art Therapy in Theory and Practice: Edited by Elinor Ulman and Penny Dachinger. New York: Schocken Books, 1975. 404 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 47:320-322.
(1978). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 47:320-322
Art Therapy in Theory and Practice: Edited by Elinor Ulman and Penny Dachinger. New York: Schocken Books, 1975. 404 pp.
Review by: Rudolph Wittenberg
While the idea of sublimation is probably of Hellenic origin, as Waelder suggested, the concept of using the arts as a medium for a secondary purpose, healing, belongs to our time. In the last decade we have seen the development of a number of new fields of work, indeed rudiments of new professions, in which the visual arts, music, dance, and poetry are linked to what—for lack of a more precise definition—has been called "therapy."
The senior editor of this volume questions the adequacy of this term but admits that she has not found a better one. This candor permeates her book which consists of a collection of articles that appeared in the American Journal of Art Therapy over a period of thirteen years. Throughout, the search for the most meaningful concepts characterizes the well illustrated case studies as well as the theoretical formulations. Art therapy may be of special interest to us because we have learned from psychology to appreciate the value of using pictorial expression as an aid in diagnosis. There is, however, less emphasis on diagnosis in these articles than on the practice of art therapy, particularly as a service of the clinic team.
Two major frames of reference are represented by Margaret Naumburg, whose theory of art therapy is based on a psychoanalytic structural model, and by Edith Kramer, who emphasizes the meanings of art in defining the art therapist's special contribution to psychotherapy itself. Not surprisingly, Naumberg is a psychologist; Kramer, an artist. It is too early to predict where the merging of art and psychology will lead, but at this time one notices in this representative volume a preponderance of psychoanalytic theory without corresponding practice. We find reference to "remembering and repeating," but rarely an awareness of the fundamental function of working through in the analytic sense. We notice the use of the term "transference," although this is not the center of the work. While some authors are concerned with art or picture-making as expressive of the primary process, in comparison with the secondary process emphasis in verbal interchanges, ideas or theories about "interpretations" differ widely.
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