Cancer and Creativity : A Psychoanalytic Guide to Therapeutic Transformation book cover
1st Edition

Cancer and Creativity
A Psychoanalytic Guide to Therapeutic Transformation

ISBN 9780815383260
Published October 11, 2018 by Routledge
214 Pages 41 Color & 60 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Cancer and Creativity is a dialogue between accounts by cancer patients and survivors and a more clinical consideration and theoretical discussion from a psychoanalytic point of view of using creativity in coping with serious illness. The contributions featured demonstrate the power of creative expression as a tool for dealing with somatic, chronic and potentially life-threatening illnesses, giving patients a way of expressing and managing their individual cancer journeys and its attendant emotional sequelae.

Ten artist-patients and survivors, who were involved in several long-term art therapy groups, give accounts of their experiences with cancer and with their support group, where they create paintings, embroidery, digital photography, comic books, maps and other works to express their experiences of being diagnosed and treated for cancer. The contributors describe their symptoms and their relationships to physicians and family members in words and visual representations. The book also addresses the experience of the public when they are confronted with art by cancer patients. Dreifuss-Kattan's own work as a psychoanalyst and art therapist informs her approach to the art space as what Winnicott calls a "transitional space," influenced by both the personal psychological experience and the physical environment. Dreifuss-Kattan closes her discussion with a reflection on terminal cancer care and the complex transferential and countertransferential relationship between patient and therapist. The book ends with a practical guide for both therapy groups, as well as individuals at home, to creatively address their experiences with cancer and its treatments.

Cancer and Creativity will be of great interest to psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic psychotherapists, psychooncologists and art therapists, as well as health professionals working in oncology and in palliative care.

Table of Contents

Introduction Esther Dreifuss-Kattan and Art by Teresa O’Rourke 1. Sigmund Freud’s Consultation Room and the Art Studio: Spaces for creative transformation Esther Dreifuss-Kattan and Corinne Lightweaver 2. Art as Transformational Object: Finding form and an aesthetic moment Esther Dreifuss-Kattan with Artist Zizi Raymond 3. One In Eight: Fighting breast cancer with embroidery and knitting Christine Carey and Suzanne Isken with art by Christine Carey 4. Cutting, Pasting and Piercing: A memoir Corinne Lightweaver 5. Remembering, Creating, and Working Through Loene Trubkin and Esther Dreifuss-Kattan with art by Loene Trubkin 6. Art As Life- Saver: Photography/installation/Facebook Devon Raymond and Esther Dreifuss-Kattan with art by Zizi Raymond 7. Understanding My Wonderland-ing:Sharing my brain tumor experience Ashley Myers-Turner, Esther Dreifuss-Kattan with art by Ashley Myers-Turner 8. Cancer! Life is Going On Anyway and Not "Cancery" Enough: From track pants to yoga pants-Fighting melanoma with paper cutouts and comic books Mary E. Walter and Esther Dreifuss-Kattan with art by Mary E. Walter 9. Cancer Maps and Super Heroes: Children and adolescents express their cancer journey Esther Dreifuss-Kattan and Alyssa Wiesel with art by several kids 10. Art, Death and Mourning: An artist and art psychotherapist’s perspective Esther Dreifuss-Kattan with art by Howard Bass, Zizi Raymond and Esther Dreifuss-Kattan 11. Art and Cancer in the Public Space: Exhibiting and viewing Susanne Isken Appendix. Scribble, Cut, Paste and Paint: Creative transformation through artistic play at home Esther Dreifuss-Kattan

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Esther Dreifuss-Kattan, PhD, is the president of the New Center for Psychoanalysis 2016–2018 in Los Angeles, a senior faculty member and a member of the Archival Committee, the Diversity Committee and Program Committee. Her previous book with Routledge was Art and Mourning: The role of creativity in healing trauma and loss (2016).


"Cancer and Creativity is an outstanding book that combines patients’ experiences as displayed through art with an editor and clinician who has worked with people with cancer through art for many years. Esther has been a long time member of my UCLA Pediatric Pain Program and has worked with adult patients with cancer at UCLA for many years. As an artist and psychoanalyst, as well as a trained art therapist, she blends her skills, training, and experience to bring together a "must read" for any individual coping with cancer or any clinician who works with individuals who have cancer. This amazing book is also a resource for any clinician who wants to understand the psychodynamics of individuals with cancer through the media of art. Actually it is a fascinating book for any reader!"-Lonnie Zeltzer, MD, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, USA

"Cancer and Creativity offers the reader coherent ways of coping – even mastering – the overwhelming traumata associated with a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Dreifuss-Kattan  explains and convincingly demonstrates how and why art making can heal the psychological damage connected with cancer. Using a wide range of art materials and artistic projects including digital photography, paper cutouts, installations as well as traditional materials such as paint or clay, the authors provide eloquent examples of how a reader could learn to work effectively with patients who might otherwise seem beyond reach.This book is a gift to all clinicians working with cancer patients."-Laurie Wilson, Ph.D., A.T.R., New York University, USA

"Walter Benjamin said that 'Relationships to objects and images can be mysterious and speak to a deep desire for the renewal of the old with the new'. The psychoanalyst and artist Dr. Dreifuss-Kattan enables cancer patients in a very impressive way to find a new psychic integration through creative work in view of their life-threatening illness. She lets us readers participate in her sensitive and touching accompaniment of her patients' journey into the unconscious - to the boundaries between life and death. A unique combination of art and psychoanalysis in the service of the patient in existential crises. An innovative, very readable book."-Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber, Ph.D., Vicechair of the Research Board of the International Psychoanalytical Association, training analyst and former director of the Sigmund-Freud-Institute, Frankfurt am Main, Germany