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Kanzer, M. (1962). On not Being Able to Paint: By Marion Milner. 2nd Edition. (London: Heinemann, 1957. Pp. 184. 21s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:357.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:357

On not Being Able to Paint: By Marion Milner. 2nd Edition. (London: Heinemann, 1957. Pp. 184. 21s.)

Review by:
Mark Kanzer

The first edition of Marion Milner's unique book, On Not Being Able to Paint, appeared under the pseudonym of Joanna Field in 1950 (reviewed in Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1953, 34, pp. 333-6). It recorded her own free drawings, with comments; the purpose was to describe for teachers the personal aspects of the learning process and their implications for education. Learning to paint was shown to be a far more multifaceted procedure than orthodox teachers imagined; creativity as well as disciplined imitation had to be taken into account. Joanna Field, suffering from learning inhibitions, resolved them through a series of conquests over herself in the course of which she acquired the ability to express her ideas both in sketches and in the book that took shape with them. In the course of this process, a change in identity took place; Joanna Field, the art student and teacher, was transformed creatively into Marion Milner, the analyst and contributor to the theory of symbols.

Anna Freud provides the new edition with an introduction. She takes up and elaborates upon the comparisons that emerge between free association in the analytic situation and free expression for the amateur artist in the situation he creates for himself; the search of both for 'circumstances in which it is safe to be absent-minded', the resistances that are encountered in each instance and the comparable experiences and insights which reflect not only the re-discovery of the past but the newly created personality in the present.

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