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Charles, M. (2001). Reflections on Creativity: The ‘Intruder’ as Mystic or Reconciliation With the Mother/self. Free Associations, 9(1):119-151.

(2001). Free Associations, 9(1):119-151

Reflections on Creativity: The ‘Intruder’ as Mystic or Reconciliation With the Mother/self

Marilyn Charles, Ph.D.

I Liken The Role of many creative individuals to that of the ‘mystic’, as explicated by Bion (1970). For this type of individual, the experience of being in the world is that of the intruder, with no true home within which to find safety and succour. The task of being in the world becomes the chronicle of a search for home, safety, ‘father’, ‘mother’. To better understand this trajectory and its implications for the creative process, I will look in some detail at the case of a young poet, whose struggles to find a ‘home’ have necessitated the finding of a self within which to more truly be ‘at home’.

Bion (1970) brought into the psychoanalytic literature the notion of the ‘mystic’ as one who could ‘know’ truth without needing to ‘think about’ it. This entails the capacity to believe in one's self and one's own vision in the face of alternate realities: most particularly, that prevailing wisdom Bion refers to as ‘the Establishment’. He appears to have held the belief that each one of us contains within the seeds of ‘genius’: the capacity to be the mystic (Grotstein, 1981). According to Bion (1970), the defining characteristic of the mystic is the ability to truly be oneself, even in the midst of a group. We often strive towards an externally driven and defined goal of ‘individuality’, whereas the actual task of becoming one's self may be a different thing altogether. For those thrust into the position of misfit by virtue of their birth, this task may be paramount, catapulting them into what Arieti (1976) has described as one of the essential stimulating factors of creativity: a focus on the process of becoming, rather than merely being.


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