Subverting Space: An Exploration of a Dance Therapy Workshop Apparatus for Schizophrenics

Psychoanal Rev. 2017 Apr;104(2):231-252. doi: 10.1521/prev.2017.104.2.231.


The authors created a dance workshop for schizophrenic patients designed to address their singular experience of space, in which the categories of interior and exterior do not function as limits. The space of the workshop, which, paradoxically, is thought in terms of the psychic space of schizophrenic patients by playing on its borderless quality, creates a continuity between the psychiatric hospital and the external world, and thus helps to prevent the segregation and isolation of such patients. This continuity is established on the basis of both the physical architecture of the workshop setting and the practice of dancing itself. The authors explore the hypothesis that, inside the particular space made possible by the apparatus of the workshop, schizophrenic patients benefit from the experience of movement, beginning with the pulse of rhythm, which establishes a consistency in time. By means of its repetitive character, the beat of music, like movement, accompanies and promotes the experience of continuity, which is the condition for any possible form of symbolizing. Two brief clinical illustrations show how this approach to dance therapy allows a moribund jouissance to be overturned and transformed into the aesthetic jouissance that characterizes the experience of dance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dance Therapy / methods*
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia / therapy*