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Meyer, B.C. (1985). Portraits of the Artist: By John E. Gedo. New York: Guilford Press. 1983. Pp. 303.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 12:372-373.

(1985). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 12:372-373

Portraits of the Artist: By John E. Gedo. New York: Guilford Press. 1983. Pp. 303.

Review by:
Bernard C. Meyer

Endowed with literacy both in the humanities and in psychoanalysis, Dr Gedo has sought to illumine a gallery of creative individuals, drawn both from his clinical practice and from the pages of art history, with the insights of depth psychology. Yet despite his dual qualifications for such a task, happily he has largely avoided the term psychobiography or its twin-headed sibling pathobiography, words that suggest a fragmentation of portraiture and encourage the unfortunate notion that for the modern biographer there are acceptable options available to him concerning the inclusion or exclusion of an inquiry into the mind of his subject. In his articulate and scholarly studies of Van Gogh, Picasso and other artists, embellished by a generous collection of reproductions of their work, Gedo makes it clear that for him such a dichotomy is neither valid nor useful, and that ideally the most faithful portrait must be woven from the several strands of varied data.

Clearly Gedo is not an advocate of an analytic approach that is focused mainly on pathological conditions. On the contrary, in his study of Van Gogh, for example, his emphasis falls less on an interpretation of the artist's act of self mutilation than on an inquiry into the dramatic breakdown of his behavioural integration. Born to an apparently psychoto-genic mother, still grieving over the recent stillbirth of another child bearing the same name, Vincent's fragile sense of self made him continuously at risk for disappointments in human relationships.

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