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Vol 21, No 2, Article 08: PDF

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Psychodrama with Psychosomatic Patients
Judith Teszáry

When patients with psychosomatic conditions seek help, they often end up somewhere between psychiatry and traditional medicine, in other words in “no-mans land”. They do not get help in somatic medicine, because there are no – or very few – physiological reasons for their ailments. In psychiatry / psychotherapy, they also, alas, do not get help because of the lack of insight about the connections between their psychosomatic symptoms and their life events: the traumas they have been through or the long lasting stress exposure.
For these patients, verbal therapy is very often contra-indicated because of their inability to verbalise their emotions. In a research and treatment project carried out at the Karolinska Institute’s Stress Research Division, in Stockholm, we created a team of Art Therapists to try out some new approaches and to demonstrate the effects of the art therapies: music, dance, drawing and psychodrama. I ran two psychodrama groups a week, consisting of patients with chronic (long-lasting) somatic symptoms, referred from a rehabilitation hospital.
The research included descriptions of the therapists, questionnaires and endocrinological measures of stress hormones.
Within the framework of this article, I will briefly describe the history of psychosomatic medicine, the background to the project, and I will present parts of two patients’ therapeutic processes. A slow partial recovery was observed. Psychodrama may have contributed to this.
Keywords: psychosomatic, alexithymia, penée opératoire, hysteric conversion, symbolizing

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