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Rose, G.J. (1964). Creative Imagination in Terms of Ego 'Core' and Boundaries. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:75-84.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:75-84

Creative Imagination in Terms of Ego 'Core' and Boundaries

Gilbert J. Rose


A distinction is made between creative imagination and regressive imagination. Creative imagination is viewed as a growth process. Energy is expended. Ego boundaries alternatingly constrict and expand before an expansion is achieved. Contact with the ego 'core' is retained. Ego 'core' refers to the continuum of ego forces between body ego (biological dimension) and ego identity (social dimension) which make for an inner cohesiveness and which stand opposite to the outer ego boundaries with the world of time and space, and the inner ego boundaries with the id and superego.

Aesthetic, religious, and empathic experience may all be conceptualized as creative expansions of ego boundaries. Their accompanying affects may overlap. Temporary fusion and loss of differentiation may occur during all of them. The energy expended in ego boundary expansion may be experienced as a sense of dilution of the self. This depends on the integrity of the ego 'core' and the size of the sector of experience between ego 'core' and boundaries that is being worked with. Ego boundary expansion may be followed by a compensatory constriction. This re-establishes a more conservative and stable balance of cathexis and counter-cathexis and a heightened sense of self.

The artist expands his awareness by exploring and communicating spatial and temporal fusions in the area between ego 'core' and boundaries. Spatial and temporal condensations enable the work of art to fit many meaningful contexts while supervening them all. The painter may scan the chief nodal points of his psychosexual history with their inherent body image clusters and compress and expand them in new spatial integrations; the writer may do this with a telescoping and expansion of the time sense.

The artist remains in contact with the ego 'core'. The formal framework of his art medium helps give assurance to the audience that, in the process of stretching its awareness, its contact with its ego 'core' will be retained. The theatre audience expects that it will be safe to 'suspend disbelief', and the theatre relies on the audience's reality testing as well as the

plasticity of its ego boundaries. Breaches of this implied contract may be disastrous.

Analysis and art both encourage a stretching of ego boundaries. In both, the scanning process reaches back to the ego 'core' with its body imageries and kinaesthetic sensations of the past. Both try to provide a framework within which a safe expansion of ego boundaries may occur. Analysis works from within by increasing the integrity of the ego 'core'. This make possible greater plasticity of ego boundaries. Art induces expansion from without by stimulating the imagination with economic telescopings of temporal and spatial differentiations.

Different people may use creative experience differently at different times. One is free to lose himself in order to find himself in a wider integration of time and space and may use art, religion and love to help himself grow through an expansion of ego boundaries. The psychotic person is lost in time and cosmic identification and may use art, religion, and love to help find his way back to an ego 'core'. Creative experience may thus serve as a bridge between ego 'core' and ego boundaries to be traversed, starting at any point and moving in either direction, like an analytic interpretation.

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