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McLaughlin, J.T. (1984). The Power of Form. A Psychoanalytic Approach to Aesthetic Form: By Gilbert J. Rose. New York: International Universities Press. 1980. Pp. 234. £10.85.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 11:372-373.

(1984). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 11:372-373

The Power of Form. A Psychoanalytic Approach to Aesthetic Form: By Gilbert J. Rose. New York: International Universities Press. 1980. Pp. 234. £10.85.

Review by:
James T. McLaughlin

In this artfully crafted monograph Gilbert Rose explores the psychology of aesthetic form and argues for its essential role in human development as the style and way by which each of us shapes the content and nature of himself and his experience. He sees this striving towards an organic unity as a reflection of a given: that there is such an ordering principle inherent in all living organisms and systems. Thus, the artistic achievements of man are an outgrowth and highest expression of this striving for organized wholeness that also drives our basic structuring of self and the world of which we are part. Rose traces the shaping of this human reaching across developmental time, stressing its beginnings in the primary narcissism of the mother-infant unit.

His emphasis upon this undifferentiated unity out of which both id and ego will take shape allows him to stress the persisting contribution of primary process thought, developing before, then in parallel and tensional interplay with, secondary process. The lifetime coexistence and simultaneity of these two very different perceptual and organizing modes, and the importance of their changing balance from their beginnings in the child-mother unit, become central to the author's theoretical constructs about his topic. 'Thus, the idea of both id and ego arising from an undifferentiated matrix, as well as the interrelationship between primary and secondary processes, provides a theoretical basis for interrelating form and content—makes for a theoretical bridge between the aesthetic attitude, with its central focus on intense perceptual awareness, and the psychoanalytic one, which traditionally emphasized motivation' (p.

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