Centrality of the Concept of Representation in Sociotherapy
Acta Universitatis Sapientiae: Philologica
"Representation" is a relevant concept in many scientific disciplines, from linguistics to social psychology, but in sociotherapy, a branch of sociology dedicated to the intervention on individuals in situations of addiction or hardship of social origin, it becomes absolutely central. There are different approaches to sociotherapy, from the original one of Rudolf Steiner (1924), to those of Marshal Edelson (1970) and John Stuart Whiteley (1986), but it is the more recent one of Leonardo
... i (2002) to fully integrate the concepts of "culture," "discourse" and "representation." This author, underlining the limited range of psychoanalysis, focuses his idea of therapy both on "culture," interpreted as identification of the peculiar form of psychological organization of the patient as precondition to any intervention, and on "discourse" as method of interaction based on a dialogue supported by the phenomenological tool of "empathy." The whole dialogue between the therapist and the patient is aimed to reach a complete knowledge of the system of "representations" of the latter. Benvenuti defines a "representation" as the combination of a cognitive element, the "image," and an affective element, the "affective investment." He looks for the roots of hardship or addiction in one or more "representations" of the patient, and this is the reason why they always must be unveiled and investigated. Only the successful intervention of the therapist on these representations and their correction in a desirable way may ensure the patient the acquisition of the needed level of autonomy and therefore the success of therapy.