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Simon, J. (1977). Creativity and Altered States of Consciousness. Am. J. Psychoanal., 37(1):3-12.

(1977). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 37(1):3-12

Creativity and Altered States of Consciousness

Jane Simon

This paper will attempt to explore the question of creativity, its relation to altered states of consciousness, and the relationship of altered states of consciousness to the analytic process. I think the “high” of altered states of consciousness is experienced in many situations, some of which—for example, TM, yoga, etc. — have become very popular today. Currently, there is a revival of interest in these phenomena among the public and more recently among psychiatrists. These meditative techniques have been known for many years as an integral part of the Eastern religions, including Zen and yoga, and have recently become of interest in more academic circles. “If we look deeply into such ways of life as Buddism … and Yoga, we do not find either philosophy or religion as these are understood in the West. We find something more nearly resembling psychotherapy… the main resemblance between these Eastern ways of life and Western psychotherapy is in the concern of both with bringing about changes of consciousness, changes in our ways of feeling our own existence and our relation to human society and the natural world.”1

Altered states of consciousness (referred to hereafter as ASC) have been considered a regressive phenomena by classical psychoanalysts, including Ernst Kris and others. Kris explains that creativity comes from “regression in the service of the ego.” That is, the initial creative inspiration comes from the person's ability to regress to primary-process thought; the later elaboration of the idea requires the person to use secondary, logical thought to carry out the inspiration.

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