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Kleinschmidt, H.J. (1967). The Angry Act: The Role of Aggression in Creativity. Am. Imago, 24(1-2):98-128.

(1967). American Imago, 24(1-2):98-128

The Angry Act: The Role of Aggression in Creativity

Hans J. Kleinschmidt, M.D.

In a society for which performance is the ultimate good, creativity has become the non plus ultra of human endeavor; with increased mechanization and social conformity, expectations and significance given to creative imagination have assumed an obsessive quality. Because of the bias of our society, the attempts to understand creative ability have become computerized or tautological. Such approaches as sublimation of libido, neutralization of energy, mastery of conflict and controlled regression in the service of the ego are reductive, hence limiting the understanding of a process which requires a larger framework.

In her article, the Childhood of the Artist (12), Greenacre states: “Talented people are not immune from neurotic and psychotic developments under all conditions, but neither is there an intrinsic connection between talent and neurosis, except in so far as this kind of incomplete organization of libidinal structure may predispose to intense episodes of dissociation, which are, however, of less ominous prognostic significance than would be true in the less gifted person.” As put forth by Greenacre, psychopathological phenomena have a different meaning in the creative person from the non-creative individual. Once we postulate such a fundamental difference in psychic dynamics and organization, we must ask ourselves whether the framework applicable to the ordinary person has validity and is truly adequate for the understanding of the individual with special endowment.

Freud's dictum that the poets were knowledgable about his discoveries long before he systematized them, can be paraphrased to mean: the language of the poet is the language of the spirit and man's spirit can best be understood in terms of metaphor.

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