Art and healing

Hands and mind

An experiment

In 2005, the medical doctor and psychologist Peter Geissler, Vienna, was finishing an investigation on the role and the healing power of corporal contact between patient and therapist in psychotherapy. In this context, he and I embarked in an experiment new for both. He passed me a summary of the results of his scientific research and its theoretic fundaments, based on which I set out to develop a series of images.  The intention was to not only illustrate the contents but to test if and how they might be benefiting from artistic views.

The artistic challenge

The subject of physical contact between patient and therapist in psychotherapy has been – and continues to be – a highly complex and also controversial issue. It falls into the in-between-territory that our culture has created between body and mind, matter and spirit. Our scientific-artistic experiment wanted to see how images can reach beyond illustrating thoughts already thought. We faced several substantial challenges, some also containing a philosophical and spiritual dimension. But the task of art was not to merely take scientific findings as a creative impulse propelling the artist’s own work – rather, it was necessary to mentally and conceptually comprehend the ideas of the other. Thus I found one of the deeper-reaching roots of the dialogue between scientist and artist: both possess their very own axis and vehicles of exploring and representing what they discover. Yet what both ultimately look for – the quintessence of the universe and us living in it – is the same.

Results

The images of the experiment “hands and mind” are today published on the front page of the magazine “psychoanalysis and body”. Peter Geissler and I continue to think and work together.