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Psychopathological Art and the Use of Art in Psychiatric Treatment

Author(s): Latife UTAŞ AKHAN

Journal: Yükseköğretim ve Bilim Dergisi
ISSN 2146-5959

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 132;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Art | Creativity | Psychiatry | Psychopathological art

The human being has to socialize once he is born as an individual and is under the influence of the environment, and the ethical, esthetic and moral values since his childhood. The thoughts, wants and wishes of the individual that conflict with the environmental order and values are repressed outside the consciousness. The repressed feelings and thoughts are converted into symbols in the form of visual images outside the consciousness. Unformed symbols provide the purest hint regarding the internal conflicts causing mental disorders. There is regression in verbal expression in some psychiatric disorders and especially in psychosis. Symptoms specific for the abstract thoughts and verbal language pathology appear. Visual language as graphic language may become the single way of communication in such instances. This constitutes the rationale and main principle of “Diagnosis and Treatment by Art'' in the psychiatric field. The three-function method of spontaneous psychopathological art enables the use of art in individuals with a psychiatric disorder. This is the projection of the complexes and conflicts that are subconscious or outside consciousness with spontaneous images as graphic and plastic expressions and enables making a diagnosis. The second function of psychopathological art is to monitor the disease progress. A series of artistic work enable the step by step monitoring of the disorder's progress. Pathological changes can be reflected in the works of art even before the clinical symptoms of the disorder appear. The third function is enabling treatment. The individual who has severed connections with the environment is in a chaotic word. During the time the psychopathological art method is used, the patients start to see the artistic work as a mirror where they find and watch themselves and their behaviors. When the artistic endeavor of patients with a mental disorder does not take place under suitable control, it becomes a tool that helps the patient escape from the environment instead of making him better. The art therapist therefore has to be very careful within the therapeutic approach and keep a delicate balance between intervention and staying quiet.
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