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Nass, M.L. (1996). The Pleasures And Perils Of Genius: Mostly Mozart (Mental Health Library Series, Monograph 2). Edited by Peter Ostwald and Leonard S. Zegans. Madison, CT: Int. Univ. Press, 1993, xv + 228 pp., $32.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:623-628.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:623-628

The Pleasures And Perils Of Genius: Mostly Mozart (Mental Health Library Series, Monograph 2). Edited by Peter Ostwald and Leonard S. Zegans. Madison, CT: Int. Univ. Press, 1993, xv + 228 pp., $32.00.

Review by:
Martin L. Nass, Ph.D.

The literature that deals with psychoanalysis and the creative processes has had an erratic history. It has shuttled between a view of the creative act as stemming from the psychopathology or physical pathology of the artist (a view that is currently in vogue in some circles, e.g., Sandblom, 1982; Goodwin and Jamison, 1990; Simkin, 1992) to the view that understands creative activity to be a multiply determined function of the ego resulting from particular genetic and developmentally derived sensitivities which are independent of the artist's conflicts. These fluctuating positions have been true of the psychoanalytic literature that deals with the creative activities of visual and literary artists as well as musicians and in the conceptions of what constitutes “genius.” A comprehensive review of the history of thought, literature, and art as applied to a psychoanalytic understanding of the creative process has been provided by Coltrera (1965). A review of the psychoanalytic literature of music was written by Nass (1989).

The book under review is a report of the proceedings of a conference on genius held at the University of California in San Francisco in 1991. In its study of genius through “Mostly Mozart,” it takes a more balanced position on the subject of creativity.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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