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Stoker, J. (2014). The Language of Drawings: A New Finding in Psychodynamic Work by A. H. Brafman Karnac, London, 2012; 110 pp; £13.99. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 95(2):400-401.

(2014). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 95(2):400-401

The Language of Drawings: A New Finding in Psychodynamic Work by A. H. Brafman Karnac, London, 2012; 110 pp; £13.99

Review by:
Jenny Stoker

For many years children's drawings have been seen as a way to access their internal worlds. Children's creations in their therapy sessions are widely accepted as evidence of their internal experiences. Children's play and their drawings are thought to express what they cannot put into words and what they cannot allow themselves to feel. Children who cannot play for one reason or another will often draw instead. Children's drawings are thought to be so revealing that they are increasingly used as evidence of trauma and abuse in the child's actual experience.

In this short clear book Brafman takes us one step further in our ways of understanding children's drawings. He takes us through his discovery of what he refers to as “split images”. His thesis is that sometimes because children cannot express their innermost anxieties in just one picture, they may unconsciously resort to splitting the illustration. It is only by overlaying one drawing against another that the clinician can obtain a fuller, rounded understanding of the child's predicament. By putting one drawing on top of another the images condense into a more complete expression of the child's world.

In an introductory chapter Brafman considers the use of drawing in clinical work with children generally and goes on to explain his view that, for self-protective defensive reasons, children will sometimes split their internal experiences into separate drawings. He makes the analogy of verbal splitting when experiences and feelings are described as if they are unrelated.

The following section of case vignettes makes up the bulk of this eminently readable book.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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