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Gedo, J.E. (1979). The Psychology of Genius Revisited. Ann. Psychoanal., 7:269-283.

(1979). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 7:269-283

The Psychology of Genius Revisited

John E. Gedo, M.D.

A few years ago, I wrote an essay on the psychology of genius (Gedo, 1972), based on clinical experience in analyzing a creative person universally acknowledged as supreme in his field. I ended it by posing a series of questions I had been unable to resolve: I did not know to what extent the conclusions drawn from the analytic observation of one man of genius could be generalized, and I was puzzled by the methodological dilemma raised by the problem of establishing a workable typology of personalities geared to outstanding achievement. In an exhaustive search of the psychoanalytic literature, I found that such individuals seem to seek out analytic assistance quite rarely; this statement is particularly true if we accept the definition of genius offered by Eissler (1963), who confined his use of the term to “persons … capable of re-creating the human cosmos, or part of it, in a way that [is] significant and not comparable to any previous recreation” (p. 1353). If, on occasion, one of these exceptional people does become a psychoanalytic patient, disclosure of the conclusions about the nature of genius drawn from the work presents such insuperable problems concerning the issue of confidentiality that literally no reports of that kind had appeared prior to 1972.

I attempted to circumvent the possibility of inadvertently revealing the identity of my patient by confining my discussion to a number of outstanding problems which had gained attention over the years in the psychoanalytic writings on creativity.

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