THE UMBRELLA AS PROPRIOCEPTIVE DEFENSE IN SANDPLAY PROCESS: THE LIMINAL SPACE BETWEEN AUTISTIC SHAPE AND AUTISTIC OBJECT
Journal of Sandplay Therapy, Volume 13, Number 1, 2004
KEY WORDS: symbol, sandplay, clinical example, skin ego, proprioceptive, defense, umbrella, autistic object, austistic shape, child, female, girl, fragmentation, body-self.
ABSTRACT: Drawing on Frances Tustin’s work on autistic shapes (1984) and objects (1980), this paper will present a sandplay process from a latency-aged girl who used the umbrella for protection of figures in her sandtrays. The client had had a traumatic injury at age one while being taken care of by an aunt. In the wake of a surgery to enable her injured arm to grow skin as her body grew, the client experienced a rupture to her skin ego (Anzieu, 1989) leading her to revert to proprioceptive defenses in order to cope with this loss of bodily integrity. The umbrella in her sandplay process, as well as other autistic shapes and objects in the play, permitted the 7-year-old client to work through her autistic-continguous anxieties (Ogden, 1989) due to a sense of fragmentation of her body-self. In time she was able to relinquish autistic defenses in favor of resuming relational efforts to cope. Sandplay process and the co-transference temenos were vital in helping this girl to resume her psychosomatic integration and development.