Steinhardt, Lenore

Journal of Sandplay Therapy, Volume 18, Number 1, 2009

Keywords: fisherman symbol, ordinary fisherman, fishing, fish, unconscious, unique symbolic role, universal use of a symbol, sandplay, clinical example, non-personal, non-rational, symbol, ego, self, adult, female, mourning, loss, pregnancy,symbol, archetypal, image.

Abstract: Over sixteen years, a little red-coated fisherman miniature has taken a momentary role in the sandplay processes of many clients, both children and adults. Curiously, he appears just once in each person’s sandplay process, usually at a secure stage in the therapeutic relationship, and is never an ongoing symbol. In a sand picture he often seems unrelated to other depicted events, perhaps in contemplation of something elsewhere, yet his fishing line connects him to a potential relationship with a fish still in the water. The fisherman’s one-time appearance in so many sandplay processes called for amplification of this symbol, from the concrete level, to the symbolic to the spiritual, to try and get closer to his unknown significance. For the author this was an invitation to fish through many sandplay cases, to connect the fisherman to real fishing experience, to the experience of objective, non-personal, non-rational phenomena, and to the patience needed to fish the depths of therapy to enter the flow between consciousness and the unconscious, between Ego and Self.