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Healing through Art

Healing through Art: Ritualized Space and Cree Identity

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  • Book Info
    Healing through Art
    Book Description:

    Ferrara, who is accepted as a healer in Cree communities, shows how art therapy became a ritual for her patients, noting that Crees often associate art therapy and their experience in the bush and arguing that both constitute a place for them to re-affirm their notions of self. By including patient drawings and letting us hear Cree voices, "Healing through Art" gives us a sense of the reality of everyday Cree experience. This innovative book transcends disciplinary boundaries and makes a significant contribution to anthropology, Native Studies, and clinical psychology.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7198-3
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-13)

    This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the nature of Cree patients’ experiences in art therapy and shows how art therapy is a means of revealing contradictory and ambiguous tendencies in the construction of the modern Cree self. It explores the Cree notion of the composite self, which consists of the individual autonomous self, the self-in-nature, and the self-in-the-collectivity. The Cree self is reciprocally embedded in the individual, in nature (i.e. the bush), and in the collective (i.e. the community), and the source of tension and instability for many Cree patients usually lies in integrating this latter dimension with the...

  2. 2 The Crees in Quebec
    (pp. 14-46)

    In this chapter, I situate my subjects within various ethnographic, cultural, and historical contexts because images of Cree culture are an issue for many of my patients in terms of the problems they face in identifying with their culture at both a collective and personal level. The source of tension and instability usually lies in the representation of the collectivity used in (or forced onto) the composite Cree self. I present the materials that the Crees use to construct their ethno-graphic, cultural, and historical contexts, and I report what elements are available to the Crees who want to construct new...

  3. 3 Cree Styles of Communication
    (pp. 47-58)

    Studies in the area of ethnography of speaking have focused primarily on the analysis of verbal repertoires, defining discourse as including all forms of verbal communication (Finnegan 1992). Discourse is more than mere talk to create sentences and it can include oral forms, written texts, and kinesics.¹ This focus of discourse analysis, being largely concerned with verbal communicative acts, has consequently distorted the realities of communication in societies where non-verbal repertoires are common, such as Amerindian societies.² Sherzer exemplifies this point of view: “Discourse is an elusive area, an imprecise and constantly emerging and emergent interface between language and culture,...

  4. 4 Cree Mythopoetic Thought
    (pp. 59-88)

    Before developing my analysis on mythopoetic thought as I witnessed it among my Cree informants and patients, and how this relates to the self and to healing, I would like to elaborate on their process of reality construction, how they seem to integrate knowledge and experience, and show how these elements influence the formation of their notion of self and vice versa. Cree interaction patterns, their narrative and emotional discourses, and the way they perceive humans and animals illustrate their culturally patterned ways of reality construction.

    I have noticed that the Crees often invoke combinations of the so-called rational-empirical dimensions...

  5. 5 Ritualizing Space through Art Therapy
    (pp. 89-117)

    Common among many of my Cree patients is how art therapy becomes a ritualized space where their mythopoetic reality set is encouraged, which in turn helps them gain greater insight. I have remained faithful to my training by providing and structuring a space defined by the rules of formation of art therapy. I negotiate the space with my patients, deciding when to meet and for how long, what materials to use, what to create, and what to talk about. This space is then given meaning by my patients. The semiotic void has already transformed this space into a ritual field,...

  6. 6 Conclusion: Art Therapy as an Interstice for the Cree Self
    (pp. 118-134)

    I began this study with the idea that I would be exploring reasons as to why my Cree patients have responded so positively to the art therapy service I provide. I have realized that art therapy with these patients becomes an interstitial space that intervenes between Cree reality and the Euro-Canadian mainstream, akin but not identical to the anthropological process by which a dialogic relationship develops between anthropologist and informant. It allows the Cree individual to focus on and try to resolve the contradictory and ambiguous tendencies in the construction of the modern Cree self. I provide my patients with...