Why are some people so cheesy

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

Summary

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.

Abstract

"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.

literature

  1. Adorno, Th.W. (1970): Aesthetic Theory. Ges. Schriften, Vol. 7. Frankfurt / M .: Suhrkamp.

    Google Scholar

  2. Benjamin, W. (1963): The work of art in the age of its technical reproducibility (Orig. French, Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung 5, 1936). Frankfurt / M .: edition suhrkamp 28.

    Google Scholar

  3. Bovenschen, S. (1991): Old leg in a new hose. In Mode 91, shamelessness becomes normal: comments on the zeitgeist and body. DIE ZEIT, No. 17, April 19, 1991, page 63.

  4. Bystrina, I. (1985: Kitsch in the context of culture. In: Pross, H. (ed.), Loc. Cit., 11-18.

  5. Carnegie, D. (1986): Don't Worry - Live! Munich: kidding.

    Google Scholar

  6. Condrau, G. (1982): The meaning of the word in psychotherapy. In: Kindler's “Psychology of the 20th Century. Psychology of Culture, Vol. 2. Weinheim, Basel: Beltz, pp. 520–527.

    Google Scholar

  7. Eichhorn, C. (2001): Sovereign through self-coaching. A guide not only for managers. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

    Google Scholar

  8. Freud, S. (1919): Ways of psychoanalytic therapy. StA, supplementary volume, pp. 239–249. Frankfurt / M .: Fischer, 1982.

    Google Scholar

  9. Giesz, L. (1960): Phenomenology of Kitsch. Heidelberg: Wolfgang Rothe.

    Google Scholar

  10. Jaspers, K. (1953): General Psychopathology. Heidelberg: Springer.

    Google Scholar

  11. Nietzsche, F. (1889): Twilight of the Idols. In: Complete Works. Critical study edition, ed. v. G. Colli and M. Montinari. Berlin: de Gruyter; Munich: dtv, 1980 vol. 6.

    Google Scholar

  12. Perls, F.S. (1980): Shape - Growth - Integration. Essays, lectures, therapy sessions (ed. V. H. Petzold). Paderborn: Junfermann.

    Google Scholar

  13. Picht, G. (1986): Art and Myth. Stuttgart: Velcro Cotta.

    Google Scholar

  14. Pross, H. (Ed.) (1985): Kitsch. Social and political aspects of a question of taste. Munich: List.

    Google Scholar

  15. Schreyögg, A. (1989): Supervision of therapeutic work in organizations. Criticism and redefinition. Integrative Therapy 15(3–4), 260–283.

    Google Scholar

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

  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.

About this article

Cite this article

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

Download citation

key terms

  • kitsch
  • Aesthetic theory
  • consultation
  • psychotherapy

Key words

  • kitsch
  • art theory
  • counseling
  • psychotherapy