Title page for ETD etd-11052007-114221

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Meyburgh, Tanja M
Email tanja@familyconstellations.co.za
URN etd-11052007-114221
Document Title The body remembers : body mapping and narratives of physical trauma
Degree MA (Counselling Psychology)
Department Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Dr L H Human
  • trauma
  • embodiment
  • body mapping
  • art therapy
  • narrative
Date 2006-11-19
Availability unrestricted
“The Perfect Body” is a dominant narrative in western culture which we are exposed to on a daily basis in the media and advertising. Individuals who have been physically traumatised may find difficulty in reclaiming their bodies after a traumatic experience, leading to a narrative of “Disownment” of their bodies. Due to the high incidence of traumatic incidents in South Africa, the accompanying load on the trauma therapy field, and new findings into the ineffectiveness of many current therapeutic methods, new methods for working with Trauma are being sought. Re-telling of traumatic experiences has led to re-traumatisation and aggravated symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Body psychotherapy methods have tried to address the physiological nature of the symptoms and the implicit memory of trauma by grounding the therapy process in embodied techniques. Body Mapping is a new technique that falls both within the narrative therapy and art therapy approaches. Documented application of Body Mapping with traumatised individuals is not available.

This study focuses on the experiences of Body Mapping of two men who were incarcerated and tortured for their political activities during Apartheid. The research was done from a Narrative perspective which privileges the individual story as subject of research. No attempt was made to find a representative population or a sample that could be generalised. The research question is “how do physically traumatised individuals make sense of physical trauma through their experience of Body Mapping?” Unstructured interviews were conducted after the Body Mapping group and were transcribed. Narratives about their experience and the cultural and historical factors that may have played a role in the construction of these narratives, were identified. Participant one narrated his experience of Body Mapping as a time and place of Togetherness, Stock-taking and Freedom of expression. Participant two narrated his experience of Body Mapping as a time and place of Ambivalence, Revelation and Release, Journey and Achievement.

Findings are relevant to therapists working with physically traumatised individuals and recommendations for further research in the method are indicated.

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