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Gedo, J.E. (1998). The Origins and Psychodynamics of Creativity: A Psychoanalytic Perspective. By Jerome D. Oremland. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 1997, xvi + 200 pp., $32.50. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(4):1304-1307.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(4):1304-1307

The Origins and Psychodynamics of Creativity: A Psychoanalytic Perspective. By Jerome D. Oremland. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 1997, xvi + 200 pp., $32.50

Review by:
John E. Gedo

The heart of this slender volume is a hundred-page essay by Oremland about some of the important unresolved issues concerning creativity. Its most creative feature, however, is an innovation introduced by Oremland (1989) in a previous work: commentaries by a variety of persons with expertise relevant to the topic, followed by a response from the author. In the present instance there are four commentators: a woman painter (Gilot), a male sculptor (Demetrios), a woman theatrical director (Perloff), and a male financier/inventor (Perkins).

Although the book everywhere demonstrates Oremland's mastery of his subject matter, it left this reviewer baffled about the readership for whom it is intended. For the psychoanalyst reader, it does not offer a sufficient survey of the literature; it fails in particular to deal with viewpoints on many controversial questions that differ from those of the author. Nor does it explain Oremland's rationale for taking the positions he advocates, although those familiar with the literature on creativity will in most instances very probably concur with his choice. Thus, Oremland's contribution is (for this vast topic) a terse position statement put forward in a take-it-or-leave-it spirit ill suited for a communication to one's scholarly colleagues. Yet as a primer for the uninitiated, the book requires more familiarity with the theories of psychoanalysis than is possessed by most cultivated laypeople. Thus, his nonspecialist commentators all misconstrue at least some of Oremland's positions, as I understand them. (It is also possible that some of these misreadings are mine, but in that case the book must be even more difficult and unsuited for a lay public than I believe.)

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