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Gedo, J.E. (1983). Saints or Scoundrels and the Objectivity of the Analyst. Psychoanal. Inq., 3(4):609-622.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 3(4):609-622

Saints or Scoundrels and the Objectivity of the Analyst

John E. Gedo, M.D.

Some years ago, I participated in a seminar on creativity in which Freud's essay on Leonardo da Vinci (1910) became one pivot of the discussion. Some participants accepted Freud's premise that Leonardo's pursuit of enterprises that took him away from creating art was the manifestation of a neurotic inhibition. Others, including myself, took the position that this judgment, ostensibly formed on clinical grounds, actually represented the imposition of a personal preference on the subject of our study. However much we may long for the masterpieces Leonardo might have created if his commitment to art had been more absolute, da Vinci did not owe posterity such single-minded devotion to his painting. It is very likely true, as Freud implied, that the artist's vacillation between his creative activities in the visual arts and his other studies was the behavioral manifestation of conflicting personal aims. To acknowledge this fact, however, is merely to transpose the difference of opinion to which I have referred from the realm of a concrete clinical illustration to that of general clinical theory.

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