Do you speak puppetry
Puppetry as an alternative form of communication
Projection That Enables Empowerment
I was a member of the staff that created a puppetry project in a hospital in Jerusalem. We were initially presented with an issue brought up by nurses in the pediatrics ward. They claimed that the process of catheterization could be so traumatic for children that it became very difficult to perform this brief procedure. In an attempt to deal with this dilemma, we conceptualized and constructed a puppet that could be catheterized. We wanted the children to see the process on the puppet before they underwent it themselves. Our basic premise was that knowledge could lessen anxiety.
I trained the hospital therapist to manipulate the puppet and was present in the initial trials to supervise the use of the puppet. One of the first children who were introduced to the puppet was a Palestinian boy named Machmud. He was twelve years old, suffered from encephalitis and was paralyzed in the lower half of his body. His daily routine included being catheterized twice a day. The therapist and I introduced Machmud to the puppet and explained that it needed to be catheterized. Machmud immediately cradled the puppet in his arms and made calming sounds. After a few minutes, he put the puppet in the bed and gently initiated the process of catheterization. We waited. Machmud was still and silent. The therapist asked if the process had been completed. Machmud replied, “Nothing has come out.” I immediately brought some water and put it in the catheter bowl. Machmud examined it and said, “It’s not enough.” I brought more. This time, Machmud was satisfied. He dressed the puppet, laid it in the bed, and held its hand. The therapist asked him how he felt performing the catheterization. He replied, “We must do it again in the evening.”
Machmud identified with the puppet and projected his predicament onto it. Thus, he became the caretaker; the strong one instead of the weak one. This was, indeed, a moment of empowerment for Machmud. It was a good moment for him.