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Hagman, G. (2006). Prologue. Psychoanal. Inq., 26(3):306-308.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 26(3):306-308


George Hagman, L.C.S.W.

Carl Rotenberg and I Shared the Belief that art, Aesthetic experience, and creativity are core aspects of human psychological and, most importantly, relational life. We believed that the sources of aesthetics are found in the earliest modes of human relatedness. That being said art and creativity are not regressive but progressive.

In organizing this issue we did not intend to promote any particular agenda or point of view. Rather we invited recognized authorities in the field and asked them to write an article that is new and interesting to them and that reflects their thinking on aesthetic issues. We expected a diverse set of opinions and we got that, but surprisingly there has appeared to be a central thread through the range of articles that we eventually included.

To put it simply the articles in this issue present art, aesthetic experience, and creativity as core aspects of human relationships. Most of the authors would agree that aesthetic life is not just a solitary, idiosyncratic process, rather creativity is highly context dependent, but in addition the modalities of thought, feeling, and action are nondiscursive, nonverbal, and in some cases highly somatic. This aesthetic way of giving meaning to experience is elaborated and refined out of the deepest sources of feeling and interacting with the world.

The issue begins with an article by Ellen Dissanayake whose book Art and Intimacy has had a powerful influence on Carl and myself. Most importantly Dissanayake has over the past ten years formulated a theory of the origin of art and aesthetic feeling in the elaboration of the earliest forms of human intimacy into adult ritual, artistic activity, and other creative practices. Dissanayake states: “It is through arts (as the elements of ceremony that fosters a group self) that humans were evolved to acquire feelings of belonging and meaning.” By extension this thesis opens our eyes to the aesthetic dimensions of many human activities and practices, even to forms of psychotherapy such as psychoanalysis.


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