Understanding the value of the arts in the education of mental health professionals: Georg Lukács, Samuel Beckett and the aesthetic category of specific particularity

Marc Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


The manner in which the arts can enhance the practical, therapeutic concerns of mental health professionals is becoming well established in the health care literature. What gets discussed less frequently, however, are those aesthetic frameworks that propose to give an account of the possible ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ of art. In response, this paper will elucidate the aesthetic theory of the Hungarian philosopher Georg Lukács and will suggest that his concept of specific particularity enables an understanding of how art, and literature, poetry and drama in particular, can be employed as an educational resource that can contribute to the development of the ‘emotional capabilities’ of practitioners. However, insofar as Lukács' works are philosophically complex and challenging, his concept of specific particularity will be discussed within the context of Samuel Beckett's dramatic work Ohio Impromptu. In doing so, it will be suggested that Ohio Impromptu is not only productive for the elucidation of Lukács' aesthetics, but also illustrates how the arts provides practitioners with a valuable educative opportunity to engage with, and critically reflect upon, a multiplicity of affective dimensions, thereby enhancing the practitioner's ability to move towards achieving an empathic understanding of, and ‘emotional resonance’ with, those receiving mental health care
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253–262
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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