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Frijling-Schreuder, E.C. (1964). Honoré De Balzac—a Disturbed Boy who Did not Get Treatment. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:426-430.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:426-430

Honoré De Balzac—a Disturbed Boy who Did not Get Treatment

E. C.M. Frijling-Schreuder

SUMMARY

The question whether in Balzac's fifteenth year we could have predicted that he would be capable of great artistic productivity, we answered in the negative. We pointed out some favourable prognostic signs: his good relationship with his sister Laure and his very early sense of responsibility towards her, his interest in books, his vitality, and the reversibility of his symptoms.

Our second question was: How is it possible that in adulthood Balzac's severe character neurosis did not hinder his creative ability, a question which arises in relation to many artists. In other words, the same conflicts which lead to character neurosis can be used by the artist in the field of his abilities in creation. To explain this, Freud (1907) speaks of the tolerance of the intelligence in the artist (Die Duldung der Intelligenz) towards the unconscious, and in his Leonardo study (1910), of a great proneness to repression in combination with great possibilities of sublimation. To indicate the fields of free functioning Beres (1959) speaks of dissociation, Kris (1952), (1955) of several degrees of neutralization, and of the reversibility of the process of neutralization, so that conflictual material can be used in conflict-free functioning, but on the other hand the creative process remains in a very unstable equilibrium which is easily disturbed.

Our third point was about an aesthetic criterion, viz. the supposition that aesthetic pleasure is disturbed when the artist's unconscious conflict is expressed too directly in his work.

But the main trend of my presentation is simply this: the fact that we find a history of early neglect in so many cases of asocial character formation does not give us the right to come to the opposite conclusion that from a typical anamnesis we could predict a typical outcome for later life.

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