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Esman, A.H. (1994). Psychoanalytic Explorations in Music, Second Series. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:850-853.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:850-853

Psychoanalytic Explorations in Music, Second Series

Review by:
Aaron H. Esman

Edited by Stuart Feder, Richard L. Karmel and George H. Pollock. Madison, CT: International Universities Press. 1993. Pp. 323 + viii.

The Perils and Pleasures of Genius: Mostly Mozart. Edited by Peter Ostwald and Leonard S. Zegans. Madison, CT: International Universities Press. 1993. Pp. 228 + xv.

The application of psychoanalytic concepts to the products of culture began early in the history of psychoanalysis. It was the consequence both of the wide-ranging interests and broad cultural education of the founding fathers of the field, and of their ambition to make of their newly-created 'science' a general psychology, rather than a mere clinical method. For the most part, their efforts in the aesthetic realm and those of their successors have been addressed to the literary and plastic arts, and, with few recent exceptions, to their subject-matter rather than to their formal properties. Music has been less favoured by analytic inquiry for a number of reasons—not merely because of Freud's professed lack of musical sensitivity, but also because of the abstract, non-discursive character of musical language.

Recent years have, however, seen an upsurge in psychoanalytic writing on music and musicians, primarily by musically-trained and/or sophisticated analysts, but also by musicologists and musicians with some familiarity with psychoanalytic ideas. Among the first to attempt seriously to investigate the psychology of music was Heinz Kohut (1957), who, still operating within the framework of classical analysis, described music's multiple appeal to the id, ego and superego and its 'capacity to allow subtle regression to extraverbal modes of psychic function', thus 'contribut[ing] to the relief of primitive preverbal tensions and provid[ing] for the maintenance of archaic object cathexes' (p.

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