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Pollock, G.H. (1982). The Mourning-Liberation Process and Creativity: The Case of Käthe Kollwitz. Ann. Psychoanal., 10:333-353.

(1982). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 10:333-353

The Mourning-Liberation Process and Creativity: The Case of Käthe Kollwitz

George H. Pollock, M.D., Ph.D.

My prior research on the mourning-liberation process and the changing psychological meanings of significant figures throughout the life course (Pollock, 1975a, 1975b, 1978a, 1978b, 1981) has now expanded into a more focused approach on the relationship of psychopathology, the creative process, and the creative products. In the following essay, using the life course of a well-known artist as a clinical illustration of my thesis, I hope to discuss various considerations which may be of clinical importance as well as applying psychoanalytic principles to aspects of creativity.

The longitudinal study of a life—be it through biography, autobiography, or diaries and other personal accounts—on occasion allows us to suggest some reasons for the outcome which is known. As such, we have a “followup” study where reconstruction is the method used to arrive at conclusions. At times these reconstructions are aided through the use of reported dreams and associations, and in fortunate circumstances one can even obtain data that suggest the presence of repeated transference phenomena. The study of a life course is not the same as the report of an ongoing psychoanalytic therapy, but it still has its value, and one can avoid the difficulties associated with issues of confidentiality and privacy. This is especially important when one studies very creative people who are easily identified. Since case histories are mainly used as illustrations and examples, the use of biographical narrative can serve this purpose.

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