Creating therapeutic "Space": How architecture and design can inform Psychoanalysis

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This article invites the reader to consider potential space through the exploration of actual space and examines the role of architecture and design in its ability to transform us through the creation of a facilitating environment. An extension of psychoanalysis's recent appreciation of embodiment, we will explore how actual space can both contain and reveal, help us process and regulate affect, and create personal and shared meaning. In this regard, I discuss the therapeutic effect of a major work of architecture, Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin. The museum acknowledges and contains the horror of the Holocaust while also providing a narrative of hope. The sense of respect, the thoughtfulness and interactivity of the design, the playfulness and use of surprise all have relevance for the psychoanalytic process. As we reflect on the intersections of psychoanalysis, architecture, and design, we can hopefully become even more effective in entering and utilizing potential space with our patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-111
Number of pages18
JournalPsychoanalytic Perspectives
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Architecture
  • Creativity
  • Design
  • Holocaust
  • Jewish Museum
  • Potential space
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Transitional phenomena
  • Trauma


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