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Stamm, J.L. (1975). On Creativity. Am. Imago, 32(4):420-423.

(1975). American Imago, 32(4):420-423

On Creativity

Review by:
Julian L. Stamm, M.D.

This book marks a courageous attempt to update our current understanding of the creative process and the creative experience. The contributors include a broad group of diverse disciplines, such as academic psychology, philosophy, Gestaltism, and finally, the psychoanalytic approach. The total provides an eclectic approach to the problem.

There are six chapters in which separate authors express their points of view regarding the problem of creativity, and a final chapter in which the editors summarize their own impressions concerning our present understanding of creativity.

In his aesthetic approach to creativity, Rudolph Arnheim stresses artistic creativity and the importance of visual perception. He refers to Freud's work on visual thinking in the elaboration of dreams. Arnheim also discusses Freud's concepts of creativity, but over-simplifies current Freudian understanding of the creative process, by reducing it to a matter of sexual and aggressive drives. Heoverlooks the recent work on ego psychology dealing with cognition and ego synthesis. He also reviews the importance of the unconscious and the oft-debated question of the relative significance of the preconscious in creative work (Kubie). Arnheim's main emphasis is on the visionary attitude of the artist, which results in a creative person's thinking “deeply through what he observes so sensitively.”

Writing about the painter and sculptor, Arnheim believes that the visionary attitude consists of thinking visually, and that this involves a symbolic representation. While no one would dispute the importance of visual thinking and perception in creative art work and the significance of symbolism, his explanation of the creative process is limited to a phenomenological point of view, and hence is of limited aid in elucidating the creative process.


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