Considering the Function of Repetition in Art and Art Therapy

Cavaliero, Annamaria. 2016. Considering the Function of Repetition in Art and Art Therapy. ATOL:Art therapy Online, 7(1), [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper considers the use of repetition in art making processes in the fields of Art Psychotherapy and Fine Art. It asks whether there might be similarities between the two. It does not set up a hypothesis to be tested but is more a reflection on the subject, which could be developed into further research. Some of the art psychotherapy literature addressing uses of repetition is discussed. It is notable that this subject comes up quite often in the literature on autistic spectrum disorders and in mental health settings. The paper also looks at Freud’s 1920 essay on repetition and his ideas about the existence of a death instinct, followed by subsequent writing on this subject by Deleuze (1968) who challenges Freud’s definition of the death instinct. A recent case vignette from art psychotherapy clinical practice in an acute mental health setting follows this. Finally, consideration of repetition in the field of Fine Art/Visual Theory is presented. There is an attempt to identify common ground between the responses to repetition as a feature of art making.

Item Type:



Keywords: Process, gesture, meditation, assimilation, rhythm

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)


2016Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

26 Jul 2017 13:48

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:28

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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