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The Fairy Tale of the Jumping Jack Mobile

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'The Fairy Tale of the Jumping Jack Mobile' is the last part of my German article 'Körperzentriertes Gestalten' (‘Praxis Ergotherapie’ ISSN 0932-9692, 13.Jg., Heft 5/2000, S. 322ff; Verlag Modernes Lernen, Dortmund). That article has been republished as chapter one of my German book Keller, Georg (2001). ‘Körperzentriertes Gestalten und Ergotherapie - Unterricht und therapeutische Praxis’ (Dortmund: Verlag modernes Lernen (ISBN 3-8080-0471-1).

An short English version (without the 'Fairy Tale'-part) of that first chapter of my German book has been publishes by the Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal. 

Keller, Georg. Winter 2001. 'Body Centered Art Activity - Development of Lexithymic Body Awareness in Occupational Therapy and Professional Training,' The Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal (CATAJ), ISSN 0832-2473, Volume 14 Number 2 pp.29-43. Translated by Georg Keller, Daniela Keller and Veronica Hofmann (M.A./Vermont Coll.) from the article written in German and originally published in 'Praxis Ergotherapie'.

If there is much interest of the English speaking readers in my article published in the CATAJ,  the German publishing house Verlag Modernes Lernen will perhaps try to publish an English translation of my whole book.

The further chapters of my German book ‘Körperzentriertes Gestalten und Ergotherapie’ (Body-Centered Art Activity and Occupational Therapy) are concerning with:

II. Painting like children do. - About the development of painting in childhood, the characteristics of children’s drawings and the relevance for art and for the therapy with adult patients.

III. Colour, sense of color, painting gesture, visual thinking and their relevance for occupational therapy with artistic means.

IV. Noteworthy about mandalas. - Origin, meaning and utilization of mandalas in therapy and education.

V. A practical therapeutic proceeding on how to develop a personal artistic production in therapy.

VI. Some practical information about the therapeutic offer of inspiring art copies.

VII. The painting subject ‘On the way’ in therapy with artistic means.

VIII. ‘I myself as a tree’. - Trees as painting subject in therapy with artistic means.

IX. Paper, Papier-mâché and cardboard in education and therapy.

X. Short introduction in occupational therapy in child ad adolescent psychiatry.

XI. Recommendations for a holistic objective in psychiatric occupational therapy.

XII. Planning of occupational therapy in psychiatry. - Some concrete aspects.

XIII. Understanding life more profound by artistic means.

Editors who are interested in publishing one of that further chapters of my German book in a occupational therapeutic or art therapeutic journal may contact me. Then I might translate one of these chapters into English. (But that will take some time.) Contact:

Here now the English translation of the last Part of the first chaper of my German book:

The fairy tale of the Jumping Jack mobile

An example for a holistic body-centered teaching

In order to recall their knowledge from anatomy lessons, by drawing each student could complete a large-sized photocopy representing a half anatomical skeleton (fig. 1). Directly afterwards they had the opportunity to become aware of their own bones, joints and muscles by selective gymnastic movements. After the preceding concentrated drawing of the skeleton many students were able to find out relations between the visualized image of the skeleton and the own internal proprioception.  


fig. 1:

The large-sized photocopy with the half skeleton to be completed

In the following lesson altering with Jumping Jack movements, various balance and equilibrium exercises were tried. In that way the basis was prepared to listen to the ‘fairy tale of the Jumping Jack mobile’. This fairy tale written by the author is a metaphor for steps in mental development. [1]


The fairy tale of the Jumping Jack mobile


Once upon a time there was a lively Jumping Jack. Every day he jumped: Arms up and legs wide. Arms down, legs close. Up and down, wide and close...


In the course of the years he noticed however a certain boredom. First only a little bit of boredom, but then more and more: Can that really be the whole life, jumping in the same uniform manner up and down all the time?


Thereupon he became very sad and thoughtful: Wouldn’t it be much more interesting to move more freely? But how could that be possible?


For a long time he thought about it and suddenly he had an idea: If he would be a mobile, then he could move much more freely! At once he got bars and cord. He took apart the hinges of his arms and legs, bound cords to all the parts of his body and built a mobile with his arms and legs, his stomach and his head on it.


But when he had finished and all the parts of his body glided through the air, only hanging at thin threads, he got very frightened suddenly: “Oh, Lord!  How unusual!”  Wasn’t that too dangerous? Didn’t he resolve too much? Sometimes the wind blew from the left side, then from the right side and already the wind turned again. And with the wind he himself turned round and round with all the parts of his body, every part into another direction. By all that turning movements he became even dizzy.


But gradually his initial anxiety changed into increasing curiosity. The more he turned around in all directions, the more well-known these various movements became to him and he noticed, that they all followed a deep internal harmony. Despite of all varieties each movement in each part of his body was fulfilled by a profound internal order nevertheless. And this order had a name: Balance.


“Oh, what a miracle!” he called enchanted: “I’m moving totally freely, eternally playing and everything is in harmonious balance!”


After that the realization of the Jumping Jack mobile with papier mâché began. It was important to arrange the hinges so large and visible that the toy and fairy tale character of the mobile is recognizable at first sight, in order not to evoke inadequate fearful associations of cut up bodies. The parts of the Jumping Jack were painted and then hung up with nylon cords on bamboo bars and after all counterbalanced.


fig. 2:

Students beneath their finished Jumping Jack mobile

 In a final lesson the finished Jumping Jack mobile was hung up in the gymnasium (fig. 2). Beneath the silent gliding mobile the ‘Fairy tale of the Jumping Jack mobile’ was narrated once more, followed by various gymnastic balance exercises. Also an antique parabola - given by Titus Livius[2] - was told, that is about the arms and legs, which did not feed the stomach any longer, because the stomach was said to be lazy all the time… but finally, when they lost their strength, they recognized, that the stomach obviously did many important things although his activities were not visible. In such a manner the Jumping Jack mobile also became a metaphor for harmonious, balanced, group-dynamic processes between the individual members of their own class. (Each of the parts of the mobile had been made by two students, means that the students could identify themselves with the respective part of the body they had made!) In that way also some fundamentals of the use of tales and stories in the o.t. treatment of children could be educated. (More information about that the students will achieve in the subject ‘Psychiatry with children and juvenile person’.)

[1] Jokes, wordplays, metaphors ans symbols are an important therapeutic means of hypnosis therapy. Confer: Erickson, M. H., Rossi, E. L.: Hypnotherapie; Pfeiffer, München, Germany, 1993, page 75f.

[2] It is given by Titus Livius (59 v. bis 17 n.Chr.) that the Roman senator Menenius Agrippa appeased the insurrectional Plebeian by this parable . - Confer: Carstensen, Richard: Römische Sagen; dtv-Junior, München, Germany, 1978, page 162f.

© Copyright by Georg Keller and by the German publishing house Verlag Modernes Lernen, Dortmund.


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