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Nydes, J. (1962). Creativity and Psychotherapy. Psychoanal. Rev., 49A(1):29-33.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Review, 49A(1):29-33

Creativity and Psychotherapy

Jule Nydes

Freud1 identified Dostoevsky as neurotic, moralist, sinner and as a creative artist and then declared, “Before the problem of the creative artist analysis must, alas, lay down its arms.” Today we are attempting to confront a problem from which the founder of psychoanalysis modestly turned aside. Freud clearly implies that his deep understanding of Dostoevsky's personal problems, of the dynamics underlying his neurotic and even his epileptic symptoms sheds no essential light on the nature and genesis of his genius. Countless people who are governed by similar psychodynamisms have no talent whatever. To attempt to explain creativity exclusively by reference to neurotic conflict is like saying, “All men and all women are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, he is a woman.”

But before we may even attempt to speculate about the answers, the very questions we are asking must be defined more clearly. Many creative artists of all kinds seek psychotherapy because they wish to overcome inhibitions that interfere with the free exercise of their talents. Others with similar problems avoid psychotherapy because they fear that any change in their personalities might impair rather than enhance their gifts. Are the hopes of the former realistic? Are the fears of the latter well-founded? Could both be right?

Even though neurotics are not necessarily creative, many, if not all, artists have neurotic problems.

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