Every psychotherapist will be familiar with what it means to experience the hatred and despair of their most vulnerable patients in the midst of a psychotherapy session. Most often these patients will manage to express their feelings verbally, but what about those who never developed the capacity to speak? Or those who are capable of talking, but carry a complex range of unprocessed embodied feelings that cannot be verbally expressed? Some patients must rely on another type of language in order to communicate their dissociative states of mind.
Primitive Bodily Communications explores how the 'talking cure' can still work when words fail and the body 'talks.' Non-verbal communication can be thought of as a form of body language and, even though this is a topic not frequently discussed, many practitioners have experienced working with people who communicate through the use of their bodies. The book does not refer to bodily communications as primitive because we see them as inferior to verbal language, but simply because they point to the beginnings of psychological development, to primary ways of being and relating, as well as to enduring aspects of ourselves.
The contributors explore the topic of primitive bodily communications in the context of intellectual disability, eating disorders and bodily neglect, focusing on the communicative aspect of bodily expressions within the therapeutic relationship. A wide spectrum of clinical cases illustrates how these patients can reach a state of better physical and emotional containment and, when possible, of verbal communication.
List of Contributors
Chapter 1: The spitting patient: speaking with sputum and free-associating with saliva
Chapter 2: Smell, silence, Winnie the Pooh and working with primitive bodily communications in the context of unbearable trauma in non-verbal patients
Chapter 3: The sound of silence. Working with people with an intellectual disability who self-harm
Chapter 4: Patients who smell: olfactory communication and the mephitic other
Chapter 5: The "smelly patient". Unpleasant bodily odour in a psychoanalytic treatment
Chapter 6: In corpore inventitur: embodied countertransference and the process of unconscious somatic communication
Chapter 7: Revisiting the entropic body: when the body is the canvas
Chapter 8: When the psyche shreds, and the body takes over
WILLIAM F. CORNELL
Chapter 9: How Uncivilized? Responding to Trauma-based Communication in Psychotherapy