Why are some people so cheesy

Kitsch in counseling and psychotherapy as an expression of a condensed image of man


Some objectives and forms of expression in counseling situations can be described as kitsch. The author first tries to outline features of kitsch as a stylistic term in art aesthetics (e.g. idealizing representations by excluding contradictions, regressive longings for harmony, loss of authenticity). When applied to consulting practice, illusory expectations and promises (e.g. images of comprehensive harmony, perfection, feasibility) or clichés can be understood as kitsch, which is then an expression of a condensed image of man. This means that counseling and psychotherapy can lose their power to make profound changes.


"Kitsch" in counseling and psychotherapy - a symptom of an anthropological reduction

Several ideals and forms of expression in the context of counseling may be considered as Kitsch. Firstly, the author delineates criterions of Kitsch as concept in the context of art theory (e.g. idealizing descriptions by ignoring internal contradictions, regressive desires of harmony, lack of authenticity). In transfer to the context of counseling and psychotherapy, illusory expectations and promises (e.g. ideas of overall harmony, of perfectionism, of total practicability) or clichés may be discussed as kitsch, which then is a symptom of an anthropological reduction. In this way counseling and psychotherapy may loose their potential of profound changes.


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Author information


  1. Baumweg 19, 60316, Frankfurt a.M., Germany

    Christoph J. Schmidt-Lellek

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christoph J. Schmidt-Lellek.

additional information

Christoph J. Schmidt-Lellek, born 1947, studied Protestant theology and philosophy as well as educational sciences; Practice for psychotherapy, couples therapy, supervision and coaching; Co-editor and editor of this magazine.

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Schmidt-Lellek, C.J. Kitsch in counseling and psychotherapy as an expression of a condensed image of man. OSC11, 379-394 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11613-004-0040-z

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key terms

  • kitsch
  • Aesthetic theory
  • consultation
  • psychotherapy

Key words

  • kitsch
  • art theory
  • counseling
  • psychotherapy