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Kuspit, D. (2006). The Emotional Gains of Aesthetic Shock. Psychoanal. Inq., 26(3):344-361.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 26(3):344-361

The Emotional Gains of Aesthetic Shock

Donald Kuspit, Ph.D.

Samvega is the Pali word denoting the shock or wonder felt when a work of art becomes a serious perceptual experience. It implies a change from a “state of distress” involving awareness of the “eight emotional themes” (birth, old age, sickness, death, and four kinds of suffering) to a state of enlightened gladness, involving awareness of the Buddha, Eternal Law, and Communion or community. The idea of aesthetic shock seems useful for an understanding of aesthetic experience and the experience of insight that occurs within the context of clinical psychoanalysis.

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