Journal of Poetry Therapy

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 38–43 | Cite as

Greek Tragedy and Ancient Healing: Poems as Theater and Asclepian Temple in Miniature

  • Kenneth Gorelick


This paper explores some of the healing processes at work in Poetry Therapy by examining two healing traditions that were contemporary in Athens of the fifth century B.C. The tragic drama depicted the unthinkable and unspeakable in ways that allowed members of the audience to participate in the dual roles of sufferer-participant and empathizer-observer. The Asclepian healing procedure helped the sufferer find the appropriate balance between remembering and forgetting, and created an ambiance in which his/her personal healing dream could arise. Today Poetry Therapy unites the powerful healing forces inherent in these ancient Greek practices, which accounts for some of its therapeutic power.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Gorelick
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Barton HallSaint Elizabeth’s HospitalWashington, D.C.USA
  2. 2.George Washington UniversityUSA

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