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Shaddock, D. (2006). My Terrible Muse: Cohesion and Fragmentation in the Creative Self. Psychoanal. Inq., 26(3):421-441.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 26(3):421-441

My Terrible Muse: Cohesion and Fragmentation in the Creative Self

David Shaddock, Ph.D.

This article takes a new look at the self-experience of creative artists. A five-step model of the creative process is put forth: preparation, inspiration, realization, completion, and objectification. The vicissitudes the creative self undergoes in each step are described, as well as the selfobject experiences needed to sustain the self through each phase. Of particular interest in this regard are the roles of the “muse” and of the artistic community. The article then describes three pathologies that the creative self is particularly prone to: addictions, vertical splits, and depression/isolation. The article concludes with a case example of a female patient who brought her paintings and stories into therapy.

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