The therapeutic dimensions of a relationship with place

Existential loneliness and a sense that one’s life is inconsequential, both of which are hallmarks of modern civilizations, seem to me to derive in part from our abandoning a belief in the therapeutic dimensions of a relationship with place. A continually refreshed sense of the unplumbable complexity of patterns in the natural world, patterns that are ever present and discernible, and which incorporate the observer, undermine the feeling that one is alone in the world, or meaningless in it. The effort to know a place deeply is, ultimately, an expression of the human desire to belong, to fit somewhere.

The determination to know a particular place, in my experience, is consistently rewarded. And every natural place, to my mind, is open to being known. And somewhere in this process a person begins to sense that they themselves are becoming known, so that when they are absent from that place they know that place misses them. And this reciprocity, to know and be known, reinforces a sense that one is necessary in the world.

Perhaps the first rule of everything we endeavor to do is to pay attention. Perhaps the second is to be patient. And perhaps a third is to be attentive to what the body knows.”

Lopez, B. (2015). The invitation. Granta: The magazine of new writing. November 18, 2015. Accessed May 11, 2017.


How to see more deeply into a landscape

If the first lesson in learning how to see more deeply into a landscape was to be continuously attentive, and to stifle the urge to stand outside the event, to instead stay within the event, leaving its significance to be resolved later; the second lesson, for me, was to notice how often I asked my body to defer to the dictates of my mind, how my body’s extraordinary ability to discern textures and perfumes, to discriminate among tones and colors in the world outside itself, was dismissed by the rational mind.”

Lopez, B. (2015). The invitation. Granta: The magazine of new writing. November 18, 2015. Accessed May 11, 2017.

An experience straddled across body, mind, environment, language and time

“Why do some writers favour the confessional or the tragic, others the irreverently comic? The history of trauma has swung periodically from the spiritual to the material, the psychogenic to the physiological. But approaching the fiction of madness as an attempt to understand the relation between the inner voices that bring into being the work of fiction, and those that threaten to destroy the very integrity of the self, makes us aware of the unfathomable complexity of what it feels like to be a self or to lose that feeling: the self not as an endocrine system but an experience straddled across body, mind, environment, language and time. For writers like Woolf and Mantel, afflicted in body and mind, haunted by voices, but gifted with kinds of visionary genius, the profession of novelist, the performance of a necessary negative capability, might be the only way of feeling that one is indeed a self.”

Waugh, P. (2014). Hilary Mantel and Virginia Woolf on the sounds in writers’ minds. The Guardian, August 21, 2014. Accessed May 10, 2017.

The role is an anchor, but the role is also a line, and a rocket

“In the theatre, actors take on their roles to project and communicate certain discrete qualities of a human being. The role is an anchor, firmly lodged in a part of the human psyche, limited by its function and style. It, too, is limiting in the quality and quantity of information it will impart to an audience. But the role is also a line, thrown out into the waters of the social world where each social interaction presents potentially new ways of conceiving one’s role […], and a rocket, propelled into the heavens where the gods reside. As a line and a rocket, the role is unlimited, unbound.

As we shall see below, the role model is useful for drama therapists in helping clients identify certain discrete qualities of their everyday roles that function like their theatrical prototypes. Yet, in moving from the image of role as anchor to that of line and rocket, the drama therapist also must consider the complexity of roles that not only speak to behaviour, but also to socialization, thought, feeling, and spirituality.” (Landy, 1991, p. 35)

Landy, R. J. (1991). The dramatic basis of role theory. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 18(1), 29–41. doi:10.1016/0197-4556(91)90005-U

The ability to discriminate between situations

“Knowledge at the beginner’s level consists precisely in the reduced formulas that characterize theories, while true expertise is based on intimate experience with thousands of individual cases and on the ability to discriminate between situations, with all their nuances of difference, without distilling them into formulas or standard cases.”

(p. 213)

Flyvbjerg, B. (2011). Case study. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (pp. 301–316). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Analyst and patient are both active and passive

“Nothing I have said is intended to convey the impression that I see the analyst as a silent partner. Silence or speaking on the part of the analyst serves to foster free association. Neither holds any significance beyond this aim. Nor do I picture the analyst as either active or passive. Analyst and patient are both active and passive. Patients often begin the analysis with a view of the analyst as active and themselves as passive – at least, that is the surface impression. And sooner or later in most analyses the patient experiences the relationship as ‘unfair’, in the sense that the patient must reveal all but expect no return in kind and must love unrequited. Clarification and interpretation of such transference reactions will be most readily assimilated by the patient – with corresponding progress in the freedom of association – if the patient can recognise the reality of the analyst’s intentions and obligations. That is, the analyst responds only when he has something useful to say. He must not yield to the temptations of responding to love and hate in any way except to promote free association, and he must remember that he is paid for attending to the patient’s associations, with no right to talk about himself for his own purposes or satisfaction.”

(page 26)

Kris, A. (1982). Free association. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Some small, often barely noticeable expansion

The view that the analyst has some insight waiting to be ‘given’ to the patient appears to me to be illusion. It is easy enough to see far ahead in analysis. To know what is needed at a particular moment, however, to permit some small, often barely noticeable expansion of the freedom of association is the difficult fundamental task of the psychoanalyst.”

(page 25)

Kris, A. (1982). Free association. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.