The Face of Resistance: A Psychoanalytic and Phenomenological Self-Exploration via Scribble Technique

by Avril Symington

The scribble technique, introduced in Florence Cane's book The Artist in Each of Us, is presented as a means of accessing repressed psychic material in a manner analogous to dreams. Mala Bentensky, in What Do You See: Phenomenology of Therapeutic Art Expression, regards the scribble technique as a representation of how one experiences oneself in the everyday-life-world. The scribble technique is also recognized in art therapy literature as effective in overcoming initial resistance to art-making. The present self-study documents my personal experience of the effectiveness of the scribble technique in identifying and overcoming my "therapeutic resistance" in art therapy. The issue of resistance, my perception of it, and my struggle to get beyond it, are documented in my scribble images and the written descriptions which accompany them.

Scribble images that I created in my training as an art therapist are presented with both psychoanalytic associations and phenomenological "Thematic Essences". The phenomenological exploration, informed by the writing of art therapist Mala Betensky and the Experiential Methodology of Kidd and Kidd, forms the basis of this heuristic research. The presentation of my initial psychoanalytic associations alongside my current phenomenological perceptions provided a fertile point of comparison between the two orientations, and their areas of convergence and divergence.

Viewing my images first from a psychoanalytic, and then from a phenomenological orientation, evolved from a desire to gain in self-understanding. I faced the continual challenge of "bracketing out" my initial interpretations of my scribble images in order to experience them anew. I found that working with the scribble technique enabled me to move beyond my resistance into a realm of perceptions and insights which were accessed from both my psychoanalytic and phenomenological interpretations.