Sandplay in Jungian analysis: matter and symbolic integration



Abstract:  Jung described a way of thinking, tied to sensations and feelings, that is a thought connected to the body. Again in The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Jung (1954) speaks of the symbol as a ‘live body’, corpus et anima. If the mind cannot credit itself with the discomfort that manifests through the body, this is a sign of a separation between mind and body. A consequence of all this is the literalization of the discomfort which makes it impossible to have a symbolic dimension.

Therapy activates a process in which the patient can move from a stage of separation to a possible connection between mind and body, resulting in changes in the level of communication and of awareness. The mind opens itself to symbolization and the body becomes a field for a common language. From our reflections we have come to ascertain that we can speak of analysis only when an imaginary space is achieved, an intermediate space between the patient and the analyst, a space that is created from the intertwining of the symbolic capability of the patient with that of the analyst.

Focusing our attention on the use of sandplay in analytic therapy, we know that one puts in the sand box objects that are marks of our psyche, visible traits that contain actions, corporeal movements and feelings. When one focuses on the overall representation built, one can go beyond the literal image and the analyst, keeping alive the image through his symbolic capability, opens the possibility of a dialogue with the symbolic dimension. The imagination as a symbolic thought is the humus that allows the analyst to maintain the intermediate symbolic level open by activating a symbolic process within the dialectic of the analysis.