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Slochower, H. (1969). Creative Expression in Freud's Theory: Havelka, Jaroslav: The Nature of the Creative Process. A Psychological Study. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1968, XIII + 230 pp.. Am. Imago, 26(1):86-87.

(1969). American Imago, 26(1):86-87

Creative Expression in Freud's Theory: Havelka, Jaroslav: The Nature of the Creative Process. A Psychological Study. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1968, XIII + 230 pp.

Review by:
Harry Slochower

Havelka's study is a comprehensive, scholarly and perceptive book on Freud's theory of art and its implications for the creative process.

Havelka's central argument is that the focus on art as a substitute gratification had led to

the neglect of a most important fact, namely, that the creative process displays a spontaneous and yet highly controlled manipulation of images, symbols, and stylistic expressions which in their quality of organization defeat the notion of neurotic passivity, dependence and confusion. (p. 7)

To grasp Freud's thoughts on creativity, we must go outside the clinical aspects of his theories, and look for them in his metapsychology and theory of personality, including Freud's Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious.

Here, Havelka stresses the preconscious, specifically the dynamic aspects of its primitive mental functions which participate in creativity and “their often coherent, sequential and organic link with conscious forces” (p. 4):

Although in the last instance the conscious process remains the final criterion of control of creatively expressive form, the preconscious is the indispensable condition which determines its structure and influences the symbolic significance, both cognitive and emotional. It is the preconscious process that determines the mind's poetry-making capacity. (pp. 55-56)

Among the striking reformulations offered by Havelka is the conception of the oedipal conflict as a positive contribution to the creative process. He sees the oedipal conflict as “a transitional mental construct linking early emotional dispositions with mythical representations of man's destiny” (p. 109). It can be “a preformative stage of any conceivable culture….

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