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Kaplan, D.M. (1972). Reflections on Eissler's Concept of the Doxaletheic Function. Am. Imago, 29(4):353-376.

(1972). American Imago, 29(4):353-376

Reflections on Eissler's Concept of the Doxaletheic Function

Donald M. Kaplan, Ph.D.

I should like to pursue several issues raised in Appendix C of Eissler's Discourse on Hamlet and HAMLET (1971). In this brief appendix, entitled “Relevance of Positive Audience Responses and the Doxaletheic Function,” Eissler returns to two problems of longstanding interest in the psychoanalysis of the creative process: the special ego activity of the artist and the communicative power of the work of art. Since I am largely in agreement with Eissler's views on these matters, I shall merely be advancing certain lines of concern he has drawn in this appendix.

Much as the term doxaletheic requires elaboration at the outset—this because it is a term of as yet slight currency coined by Eissler himself—I want to be cursory about its definition until I have described the problems that compel such a term. Suffice it to say that psychoanalysts have found it necessary now and again to furnish concepts meant to account for certain features of the creative process that seem exceptional in comparison to normal and pathologic processes well known to psychoanalysis. Analysts are long familiar, for example, with Kris's concept “regression in the service of the ego” (1952) and more recently with Weissman's concept “beyond the reality principle(1969). Eissler (1971) has coined the term doxaletheic function to suggest an ego function that guarantees a maintenance of reality testing in states of high drive arousal accompanying creative activity. Eissler goes on to remind us that such terminology is merely provisional in the sense that it designates ego functions not unique to the artist but rather uniquely central and decisive to his work and personal adjustment.


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