S12 - Art Therapy And The Concept Of Internal Cohabitation

Abstract for TAoAT 2002 by Tim WrightTim Wright

This is the working title of a paper, which will explore the application of a relatively new psychoanalytic concept to art therapy. The concept of Internal Cohabitation (Sinason 1993 etc.) proposes the existence in every person of two minds, not as a result of a splitting process, but as fundamental to our nature. One mind lives in the world of relationships whereas one, formed by paranoid constructs, opposes them. The therapeutic approach rests on the acknowledgement of both minds as they appear in sessions. The way is thus cleared to forming a therapeutic relationship with the relationship-oriented mind in its struggles with its Cohabitee.

Through the presentation of clinical material I shall give an account of how I have worked with this approach in art therapy. In particular I will explore the Cohabitee’s effects on and manifestations in the artwork. These are various and range from complete inhibition, through various destructions and distortions of the process and product to, in relative health, a symbolic representation of the effects of the Cohabitee on the patient’s mental state.

As stated above, the concept of the cohabitation of two minds applies to us all and it is from this perspective that I shall be exploring my counter transference. My emphasis here will be on how one’s own Cohabitee can induce one to lose faith in the therapeutic process, or otherwise undermine it.

In addition to Sinason and others’ writing on the concept of cohabitation I will refer to art therapy and literature dealing with the psychotic mind e.g. Greenwood’s recent paper “Captivity and Terror in the Therapeutic Relationship”.

Previous abstract | Index of TAoAT 2002 papers | Next abstract