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Székely, L. (1983). Some Observations on the Creative Process and its Relation to Mourning and Various Forms of Understanding. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 64:149-157.

(1983). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 64:149-157

Some Observations on the Creative Process and its Relation to Mourning and Various Forms of Understanding

Lajos Székely


Highly abstract thinking is the manifestation of the inner working of mental life, which in the present instance is the creative activity of a theoretical physicist. Events in the 'creative workshop' are traditionally not the focus of psychoanalytic inquiry. The study here begins with a description of the intrapsychic consequences of object loss and mourning and their specific outcome during a period of creative work.

Three distinctive events can be considered as direct consequences of mourning: (1) The conceptualization of the 'little wave'. (2) The belief, that the 'little wave' is solely his invention. (3) The assumption made in the preconscious, that the 'little wave' is a stable one. (2) and (3) had turned out to be erroneous and had been corrected by Alpha subsequently. Thereafter the scope of the psychoanalytic inquiry widens to include the cognitive strategies employed by the physicist and their genetic link to the collective alternates in Greenacre's sense. One such cognitive strategy is dealt with, to which the term 'tangled hierarchy' is applied. This considers how thought or knowledge acquired at one level is transferred to another, or vice versa, with the aim of achieving some degree of isomorphy between them. Interactions between events within the realm of object relations and those which take place in the preconscious creative sphere are pointed out. The transitional stages of a creative product bear the mark of the specific features of object relations, conflicts and defences. The final product, however, does not exhibit these same marks.

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