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Hymer, S.M. (1983). The Therapeutic Nature of Art in Self Reparation. Psychoanal. Rev., 70(1):57-68.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Review, 70(1):57-68

The Therapeutic Nature of Art in Self Reparation

Sharon M. Hymer, Ph.D.

The central thesis presented in this paper is that art provides a means for the patient to make reparation to his damaged self. The patient may utilize his symbolic relationship with the art source in a reparative manner. With the art source in the foreground, the analyst can then explore with the patient the relationships between art and his internal objects and self in his attempts to achieve wholeness and integration.

Klein's (1953) concept of reparation to the object is extended and expanded upon in order to understand the multiplicity of ways in which the patient makes reparation to his self. While Klein discusses the patient's reparation to the object as a means of resolving the depressive position, it is evident from the analyses of patients whose art references were explored, that art enables these individuals to make reparation not only to the object but also to the injured self. Art, from this perspective, contributes to the “restoration of the self” (Kohut, 1977).

The etymology of the term reparation encompasses several meanings (Oxford Dictionary, 1926). The Kleinian formulation finds expression in the definition: “the action of making amends for a wrong done.” A second meaning of reparation: “the restoration or renewal (of a thing or part)” is explored in terms of Freud's “return of the repressed” construct and Kohut's concept of restoration of the self. As the patient integrates previously split off, disowned aspects of id impulses and/or the grandiose self, he comes to experience himself as a whole object who is better able to regulate his self-esteem.

The third meaning of reparation: “the restoration of a person” includes not only the integration and regulation of self, but also the transformation of self. In Kohut's analysis of the integration of narcissistic

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