However, Degas experimented and sent several papers through, using the same ink plate. The images become more ghostly and surreal each time; Degas sometimes added color to these after-images. In this way he changed the image each time, playing with repetition and transformation, creating something that is the same yet different.
This innovative process fascinated Degas. There is never a ‘final’ product.
He also was looking for techniques that would help him portray the new ‘isms’ of his time. How do you portray a face illuminated by the new electric light? How do you portray a landscape seen from a moving train? How do you portray the smoke rising from smoke stacks in the newly industrialized urban environment? The monotype helped him capture these moments.
This sparked me thinking about the psychotherapeutic process. Some sessions are like the process of making a monotype, for both patient and therapist: that is, the collection of thoughts, feelings, associations are pressed together to create new image or understanding, Many sessions have a ‘reveal’, sometimes several. And as our patients change as a result of the therapeutic process, they remain the same but are also different.
Without fully realizing it, I had been searching for a new method that would help both my patients and myself transform, that is, help move the process of change forward. I wanted to work even more deeply with the unconscious and the body, as sometimes psychotherapy can get lost in ‘talk’. As I have discussed in earlier posts, I have been using the dream work technique Embodied Imagination (EI) to help me address this need. In this work the patient enters the landscape of her dream by embodying select images that eventually help her transform her habitual way of seeing the world.
Just like Degas dampened the paper to help it absorb the ink more easily, we help the patient loosen up by inviting her into a hypnogogic state. This helps prepare the patient. Then the therapist helps the patient embody select images in her dream. The therapist combines the chosen images into a composite, which the patient mentally practices for weeks after the session. Doing the dream work -- embodying the dream images --is like Degas’ drawing on the plate; the continued practice is like going through the press. This leads to changes, and in many cases, transformations.
I have undertaken a great deal of this dream work myself, as the ‘dreamer’ or patient. I have wanted to expand my writing repertoire beyond academic writing and am now the author of two plays as well as a number of poems, directly a result of the dream work. Like Degas, I am fascinated by the feeling of endless expansion, endless possibility, that there is never a ‘final’ product.