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Pao, P. (1983). Suspension of the Reality Principle in Adaptation and in Creativity. Psychoanal. Inq., 3(3):431-449.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 3(3):431-449

Suspension of the Reality Principle in Adaptation and in Creativity

Ping-Nie Pao, M.D.

Introduction by Joseph D. Lichtenberg, M.D.

As the results of studies conducted by literary critics and psychoanalysts the hypothesis that loss and death are powerful stimuli to creativity has become widely accepted. Because themes of death and mourning abound in art, music, and literature, most of our studies quite naturally focus on the timing and themes of famous creative artists, composers, and writers. It is of interest, I believe, to include in this issue of Psychoanalytic Inquiry a work by a talented psychoanalytic practitioner and theorist, a work that illustrates many of the same findings as the other studies presented here.

Ping-Nie Pao was simultaneously mourning the death of his wife and experiencing deep anxiety about his own health. He had been diagnosed as having cancer that showed signs of activity. The future care of his children lay heavily on him. With his major work, his book Schizophrenic Disorders behind him, it might well be expected that he would turn inward, become depressed or angry, and rest on his laurels. So it was with some surprise and great pleasure that I received a phone call from him saying he had an idea about a paper on creativity.

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