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Seidenberg, R. (1966). Creativity in the Theater: A Psychoanalytic Study: By Philip Weissman. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1965. 275 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 35:143-146.

(1966). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 35:143-146

Creativity in the Theater: A Psychoanalytic Study: By Philip Weissman. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1965. 275 pp.

Review by:
Robert Seidenberg

Few psychoanalysts today can speak with more authority and wisdom about the theater than Philip Weissman. His range and depth from Sophocles to Williams is wondrous to behold. What is particularly impressive to me is that, like Freud, he learns from the theater instead of treating it. The theater is, has always been, a prime source of wisdom, insight, and delight. The best of psychoanalysis comes from the language of the dramatists and poets—the worst from the biologists and physicists. Philip Weissman is in the forefront of keeping this salutary literary tradition alive.

Because he has, and continues to do this for us, we can forgive him for succumbing at times to our childhood disease. We as psychoanalysts like to simplify and reduce things to the first few years of life if possible. Although I have not analyzed many actors, I cannot believe that they all are what they are because of an infantile exhibitionistic fixation and suffer from lack of identity and faulty body image development from the age of one. From the opening pages of the book, one gains the impression of the author that the profession of acting is at best a disease; at worst a perversion. On page 11 we find, 'Psychoanalytic investigation reveals that these are individuals who have failed to develop a normal sense of identity and body image during the early maturational phases of infancy'. In the development of an actor, I would like to know more about ego ideal, tradition, as well as social climate.

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