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Turco, R. (2018). Art, Creativity, and Psychoanalysis: Perspectives from Analyst-Artists, Edited by George Hagman, Routledge, London and New York, 2017, 214 pp.. Psychodyn. Psych., 46(3):443-448.
(2018). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 46(3):443-448
Art, Creativity, and Psychoanalysis: Perspectives from Analyst-Artists, Edited by George Hagman, Routledge, London and New York, 2017, 214 pp.
Review by: Ronald Turco
This book consists of 12 chapters written by analyst-artists who focus on the aesthetic experience, creativity, art, and psychoanalysis and who have in common the experience of being practicing therapists and, at alternate times, working hard to be artists. The common theme is how the way that the practices of analysis and of art enrich each other. These analyst-artists practice various art forms, and this volume includes several painters and poets, one rock drummer, a novelist, a vocalist, a photographer, and a filmmaker. These writers present the enrichment of each activity by the interrelation of doing art as well as therapy, which makes this book so unique. The book is refreshingly almost totally devoid of psychoanalytic jargon or theory. The contributors independently write, without a set agenda, of ideas, struggles, ambitions, and accomplishments in fulfilling two highly demanding careers that are of importance to them.
An added benefit is the inclusion of artwork by each analyst-artist. For the musician contributors there is information regarding links to appropriate websites and Internet shopping sites. The editor offers no opinion or judgment of the artists’ work nor endorses of any of the work. Conveniently, each artist has provided his or her own set of references.
Chapter One. Karen Schwartz utilizes naturalistic observation describing artists and psychotherapists exploring the human condition making implicit experience explicit. She describes continuities in psychotherapy and painting, for example, in the use of her hand becoming like an organ for the listening process in taking notes and the obvious role of the hand in painting. The act of painting other people resonates with the empathic skills of a therapist and the intense looking/listening necessary for the fundamental act of empathy with patients, the imaginative reaching into another being that becomes concrete. Her expressionist work has always involved coming back to the human figure and she often uses her hands rather than a paintbrush inviting intersubjective relatedness to fill in what is unstated and ambiguous both in painting/life and in psychotherapy.
This artist is not burdened by how process in art is supposed to be—the “right way” to paint—thus an opportunity to experience a relief from the professional restraint she feels obligated to exercise as a psychotherapist.
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