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Cancer and Creativity

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.

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).

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