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Motz, A. (2009). Hiding and Being Lost: The Experience of Female Patients and Staff On a Mixed Sex Secure Ward. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 18(1):37-41.

(2009). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 18(1):37-41

Hiding and Being Lost: The Experience of Female Patients and Staff On a Mixed Sex Secure Ward

Anna Motz

In this article, I explore the themes of hiding, losing, and being found in relation to the experiences of women in secure mental health settings. Their hidden abuses, acts of violence, creative aspects, and secret desires play a central role in their identity, but are often lost to those who work with them, and even to the women themselves. Psychotherapeutic engagement with these women, including the work of arts therapists, can enable them to give voice to their hidden experiences, to disclose and explore their violent thoughts, feelings, and actions. Sometimes the women have used their bodies to encode those experiences which cannot be put into words, for example through hidden acts of self-harm. For other women, sexual feelings are hidden away, through shame and guilt. I will explore how therapeutic approaches can enable what is hidden to be brought into the open, using illustrative clinical material and inviting discussion throughout.

Received 7 May 2008; accepted 3 September 2008

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