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Kolodny, S. (2004). Dreams and drama: Psychoanalytic criticism, creativity and the artist by Alan Roland Middletown, CT: Wesleyan Univ. Press. 2002. 151 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(2):542-545.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(2):542-545

Dreams and drama: Psychoanalytic criticism, creativity and the artist by Alan Roland Middletown, CT: Wesleyan Univ. Press. 2002. 151 pp.

Review by:
Susan Kolodny

Dreams and drama is by training analyst, visual artist, playwright and librettist Alan Roland, and is in three parts. In the first, Roland describes career artists' inhibitions in promoting their work, and the relationships between the ‘artistic self’ and its selfobjects. In the second, he revisits dreams and dream analysis; discusses imagery and symbolism in dreams and art; and challenges psychoanalytic beliefs about creativity and its relationship to primary process thinking. In the third, he argues against traditional analytic approaches to art and literary criticism and offers examples of what non-reductionistic psychoanalytic criticism can be. His book has many strengths, insights and excellent examples. It falls short, however, of the overall integration, the synthesizing of ideas that a reader hopes for, perhaps especially when a book has so much to offer and an artist is writing about art.

In Part I, ‘The artist and the artistic process’, Roland uses case material to demonstrate how internalized parental attitudes can hinder a career artist's promoting of his/her work. Roland's observations about the challenges inherent in this specific area of artists' lives are informative and should help sensitize clinicians to what such artists may face. I would, however, have welcomed his comments on whether he believes the inhibitions he delineates differ from others with which artists may contend, given that artists who are conflicted about making art and artists who are conflicted about promoting it may both struggle with internalized parental attitudes which prohibit aggression and competition and therefore inhibit success.

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