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Tarachow, S. (1951). The Psychoanalyst and the Artist: By Daniel E. Schneider, M.D. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Co., 1950. 306 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 20:638-639.

(1951). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 20:638-639

The Psychoanalyst and the Artist: By Daniel E. Schneider, M.D. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Co., 1950. 306 pp.

Review by:
Sidney Tarachow

This book, addressed primarily to intelligent laymen interested in the arts, is a serious attempt at a solution of some of the many problems of æsthetics, art, and psychoanalysis. It contains a general theoretical discussion and special essays about the works and personalities of certain artists. The lay reader is given an excellent introduction to certain segments of psychoanalytic theory, particularly dream work and the Oedipus complex.

The author follows Freud in likening artistic creation to dream work. He conceives the preconscious as the doorway through which the unconscious is thrust to be transformed by the technical tools of the artist and then presented to the world in a special way. The author employs the terms 'creative thrust' and 'creative mastery' to indicate the powers of the unconscious instincts and the constructive powers of the conscious ego. The author believes, as did Freud, that the essential artistic gift is a constitutional predisposition, and that there is a closely related flexibility of repressions which facilitates access to the unconscious, making the latter available for recapture and transformation into artistic products. These, if successful, evoke universal identifications. The essential artistic gift is this possibility of the transformation of the unconscious. Taking Freud's discussion of form in art, wit, and the comic as a starting point, the author discusses the problem of content versus form. The power of transformation of the unconscious is form. In psychoanalytic terms this identifies the primary process as the determinant of artistic form. This concept of form omits the relation of form to the degree of the ability of the ego to master aggressions as well as the problem of flight from affect or from content which might have an obsessional or a schizophrenic quality. The author believes that artistic mastery of form is inherited, although preponderantly by males. Western music is given as an example in which form is predominant, and composers almost universally men.

Illuminating and often brilliant insights with illustrations are given of Delacroix's grasp of the unconscious as the source of artistic imagination, Joyce's musicality and mastery of form, the preoccupations of Chagall and Picasso with the Oedipus and rape, and Arthur Miller's preoccupation with the problems of the younger brother.

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