Val Richards


The Who You Dream Yourself
Playing and Interpretation in Psychotherapy and Theatre

‘At the time of beginning my own therapy, I was teaching drama and theatre studies and became fascinated by the analogies between theatre and therapy, especially by how these set-apart space/times affect the behaviour of meaning-making and the seeming immensity of the therapist’s power.

‘…as a trainee psychotherapist, discovering the writings of Winnicott, I realised that his theory of transitional phenomena and his vision of “playing” … provided a theoretical underpinning to the bond between theatre and therapy, bringing together the three parts of this book.’

The motif of time and space runs a continual thread through The Who you Dream Yourself. Val Richards examines the relationship between psychotherapy and the theatre, as underpinned by Winnicott’s writings. She supplements her theories with Jung’s ideas in self, the writings of Lacan and the prose, drama and poetry of Yeats – an unusual blend between the diverse and often opposing schools of thought. The book itself is divided in to three parts. One part focused on the workings of language, space and meaning-making in the settings of infancy, therapy and theatre. Part Two looks at the “struggle between masks”, which are used as a metaphor for self and the representation of self. Richards considers how the phenomenon of theatrical “forced asks and free masks” serves as an analogy for the range of positions inadequately covered by the True and False Self dichotomy of Winnicott. Part Three looks at signs and times by showing space and linear time are one and indivisible: disturbance in one means disturbance in the other. This point is illustrated with an in-depth examination of Yeats’ Purgatory. Elsewhere in the book case studies are used to illustrate formulations. This book is highly recommended for analysts, therapists and trainees, in particular child and Winnicottian therapists, and anyone with an interest in the role theatre plays in the wider world.

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