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Pollock, G.H. (1986). Charlie Chaplin: Autobiography through Film. Ann. Psychoanal., 14:35-58.

(1986). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 14:35-58

Charlie Chaplin: Autobiography through Film

George H. Pollock, M.D., Ph.D.


For some time I have been interested in comparative biography and the study of discrepancies, omissions, and distortions in autobiography. These projects continue. In the course of my studies there have been occasions when there were coincidences of research, and it is on one such investigation—the study of creativity, trauma, loss—that I now report. My prior researches focused on the possible relationship of the mourning process following childhood and adolescent losses resulting from the death of a significant figure (Pollock, 1961, 1962)—e.g., parent, sibling—and turned to adult productivity in writers, poets, artists, composers, sculptors, philosophers, political leaders, and scientists (Pollock, 1966, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1975a, 1975b, 1978, 1982, 1984). The operating assumption was not that childhood losses were the crucial causative factors in creativity but that such events could provide the impetus and direction for later creative endeavors. Subsequently, I extended my studies to include other childhood traumas, e.g., abandonment, abusing caretakers, parental suicides, sibling illnesses, and disabilities (Pollock, 1985, 1986). The impact of the abandonment research, which is currently in press (Pollock, 1985), led to a recognition that periodic abandonment, e.g.,

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