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The Healing Space in Psychotherapy and Theatre

  • Peter Elsass

Abstract

This article is a comparative examination of the relationship of audience and actors on the one hand, and of a client and his psychotherapist on the other. Peter Elsass argues that in order to describe both relationships as of a healing nature, one also has to identify a ‘healing space’ beyond the consulting room, instead of focusing on the healing relationship itself. Employing an analogy with shamanism, he describes this ‘healing space’ as a ‘pinta’, or vision from an extra-contextual frame. The history of psychoanalysis shows this need for a ‘pinta’ as a driving, rebellious force, and he suggests that without a ‘pinta’ of its own, the theatre also dies. Peter Elsass is a Professor of Health Psychology in the Medical Faculty of Aarhus University, Denmark, and chief psychologist at the Psychiatric Hospital, Aarhus. In addition to writing a large number of articles within the medical and psychological fields, he has also worked in the field of cultural anthropology, and in Strategies for Survival: the Psychology of Cultural Resilience in Ethnic Minorities (New York University Press, 1992), he describes his many periods of residence with Indian tribes in Colombia. Peter Elsass has been an associate of Odin Theatre, and has taught at the International School of Theatre Anthropology, directed by Eugenio Barba.

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The Healing Space in Psychotherapy and Theatre

  • Peter Elsass

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