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(Schriftenreihe Literaturwissenschaft; 84)


Torsten Caeners

Poetry as Therapy

Contemporary Literary Theory as a Foundation of Poetry Therapy

Although the healing powers of poetry have been known and discussed since antiquity, there has never been any serious research into the matter until the middle of the 20th century. In the 1960s, Poetry Therapy was developed in the USA and has been employed as a modern psychotherapeutical method ever since. While this interdisciplinary approach allows psychotherapy to tap into the inherent healing power that poetry represents, research has still not been undertaken into more fundamental questions such as why poetic writing is therapeutical in the first place, in which manner the processes of writing poetry facilitate an increased participation of the unconscious, and the specific ways in which therapeutically relevant material becomes woven into the empirical poetic text and can subsequently be spotted, extracted and utilised for the therapeutic encounter. This study engages with these questions by providing a foundation for the poetic side of Poetry Therapy from a literary perspective, appropriating post-structuralist literary (theoretical) concepts for Poetry Therapy. Following a delineation of the present situation of Poetry Therapy as a discipline, theoretical concepts of Lacan, Kristeva, Derrida, Foucault and others are employed to fashion a model of Poetry Therapy that can trace and utilise the connections between the unconscious, poetic writing and therapy. Concepts of metaphor, intertextuality as well as narrative identity are further brought to bear on the issues of poetic writing in a therapeutic context. Poetry Therapy is thus conceptualised post-structurally as a palimpsestuous process of writing in which the poem serves as a key therapeutic node within the larger semiotic field of therapy.


ISBN 978-3-86821-276-1, 280 S., kt., € 29,50 (2011)


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