Gregg M. Furth - "The Secret World Of Drawings: A Jungian Approach To Healing Through Art".
Gregg Furth's book is a complex study of spontaneous drawings created by a wide spectrum of patients, from young terminally ill children, their parents and families to troubled adolescents, prisoners, the disabled and the elderly.
One of the key questions that the author asks and eventually succeeds in answering is whether or not art as a creative process has the power to heal a hurt subconscious mind. The author had studied at the Jung Institute in Zurich and follows a route known in modern psychotherapy as Jungian Psychology. The crucial point of this belief, in connection to art therapy is that, it can be used to cure and help to re-establish one’s confidence after a traumatic event or a period of acute distress. The author of the theory himself, Carl Jung, practiced art therapy in his own life, in times of stress or despair and he believed that it was more than solely recreational.
The writer looks into a number of studies in the book, during which he deeply analyses the patient’s drawings or other means of art, his condition and further medical evidence. Furthermore, the subject of dream analysis is mentioned throughout the book as it is closely related to the subconscious symbolism expressed through spontaneous drawings. As an example, Furth explores a case study of a young, terminally ill boy, age 5. He looks into a drawing given to him by the mother, without a clue about the author of that drawing. After a period of analysis, Furth manages to uncover some key facts about the patient which are rather shocking having said he did not receive any information about who the patient was. During the consultation with the boy’s mother, the therapist uncovers the truth and delivers a deeply meaningful explanation of the boy’s thoughts and feelings during the process of creation of the drawing relation to the terminal illness.
Other aspect of the book that I find truly helpful is the author’s analysis of his time spent in Jamaica as a Peace Corps volunteer, during which he takes the position of a primary school teacher. That time was very influential for the author mainly because of two aspects. Firstly, the fact that he discovered a relationship between a child’s ability to draw, in order to develop hand to eye coordination skill and also the relationship between the act of creating and the possibility of expressing inner emotions through it. Secondly, during that time Furth befriended an old man, who was trying to prepare to pass away, knowing there was still a number of unfinished business he had to take care of before dying. Later on in his career, the writer managed to connect both of these experiences from his time in Jamaica to develop a deep understanding of the needs and wants of terminally ill children.
Overall, I found this book painfully fascinating and truly reassuring as it proved to examine many aspects of art therapy that interest me. It is so much more than just a guide to analysing drawings of the patients concerned, it explores the core reason behind art therapy as a whole, its benefits, its faults and the importance of practicing this method of psychotherapy whenever possible.