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Graves, P.L. (1984). Life Event and Art. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 11:355-365.

(1984). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 11:355-365

Life Event and Art

Pirkko Lauslahti Graves


This paper explores the relationship between life events and art using the case material of a young woman—a rape victim—and a short story she wrote about her experience. The need to master the trauma and the effective binding of the anxiety evoked by it seemed central in her writing, the art form she selected for the creative product. The aesthetic transformations of the story confirmed the prevalent notion that in art an unconscious, unacceptable fantasy needs to be transformed to a generally acceptable form. The story's emphases and omissions also suggest that the self-observing ego functions must remain unimpaired during the traumatic event before that experience may be utilized for aesthetic transformations. The view of art as a study of communication stimulated considerations about other meanings, both conscious and unconscious, of the audience to the artist. Finally, the role of psychotherapy in the woman's creativity showed that a working ego in treatment provides an ideal model for an empirical study of the creative process.

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