Art Therapy

Dissertation Title

Emerging Consciousness: The Search for Self Through Art Therapy in a Forensic Setting.

Dissertation Abstract

In Singapore, where the prevalent society holds onto ideals of efficiency and utilitarianism, a person with mental illness and a forensic history is easily stigmatised and rejected. The experience of being institutionalised can cause infantalisation of the patient by a constant lack of power over their daily routines and the depersonalisation present in large governmental mental health organisation (Murphy, 1994). This can be further exacerbated by a patient who voluntarily isolates himself by retreating to his room, diminishing and limiting social contact with others. Over time, such a patient may have retreated so deeply into his own mind as to appear unconscious of his immediate environment. A qualitative single case study of a 46 year old male inpatient in a disturbed, aggressive and violent (DAV) ward demonstrates how art therapy as a therapeutic intervention can assist someone in regaining awareness of himself. This dissertation attempts to explain the concept of consciousness from a Jungian point of view with reference to the archetypal self. The paper also explores how attachment, more specifically, the concept of mirroring and attunement, can be embedded in art therapy practice to further encourage the patient in becoming aware of himself.