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Kavolis, V. (1971). Sex Norms, Emotionality and Artistic Creativity: Psychohistorical Explorations. Psychoanal. Rev., 58(1):22-36.

(1971). Psychoanalytic Review, 58(1):22-36

Sex Norms, Emotionality and Artistic Creativity: Psychohistorical Explorations

Vytautas Kavolis

The psychoanalytic theories which have linked artistic creativity to partial “sublimation of instinctual drives” (or their displacement), combined with “a certain amount of direct sexual gratification,”34a suggest that artistic creativity might be enhanced in the historic periods characterized by a moderate inhibition of sexuality, and reduced in those of extreme sexual restrictiveness or permissiveness.42a Psychoanalytic theory also relates emotionality— a “richness and intensity of feeling”34b— to the ability to create art. And experimental psychology has shown originality to be associated with “responsiveness to impulse and emotion” and a “greater depth of feeling.”2 It stands to reason that “emotionality” is not a free-floating quality, but rather is attached to man's relationships with sociocultural objects and expressed through them. We might then expect the historic periods in which the investment of feeling into sociocultural objects is high to be the artistically creative ones. Among sociocultural objects, I shall specifically consider systems of belief and social relationships, both of which can be invested with highly variable amounts of emotion.

Since the emotionalization of sociocultural objects may be not unrelated to socially imposed or internalized inhibitions of direct sexual gratification,3,35,36,41a I start with the hypothesis that the two variables presumably linked with artistic creativity— moderate sex restrictiveness and emotionalization of culture and social relations— will also be associated between themselves, though not necessarily in a one-to-one relationship (1).

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