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Nass, M.L. (1989). From Transformed Scream, through Mourning, to the Building of Psychic Structure: A Critical Review of the Literature on Music and Psychoanalysis. Ann. Psychoanal., 17:159-181.

(1989). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 17:159-181

From Transformed Scream, through Mourning, to the Building of Psychic Structure: A Critical Review of the Literature on Music and Psychoanalysis

Martin L. Nass, Ph.D.

One of the most common methodological errors made in applied psychoanalysis is the evaluation of an aesthetic work on the basis of its dynamic meaning in the history of the artist, rather than through criteria that concern themselves with the aesthetic value of the work itself. Aesthetic judgments are reduced to an understanding of the motivation of the individual involved and the work that has been produced is evaluated in these terms. This kind of error, commonly made by dynamic psychology and by psychoanalysis in attempts to arrive at motivational understandings of their subjects on or off the couch bypasses the entire issue of aesthetic or cultural value. Thus a requiem or a piece of sculpture may be “explained” solely in terms of the composer' working through of the loss of a parent. Problems in methodology in applied psychoanalysis are very frequently organized around issues of this nature, and applied psychoanalysis has been subject to proper criticism in this regard. While this problem has been spoken about and referred to in some instances (e.g., Gedo, 1972), there is a body of literature in which this approach continues to exist (e.g., Eissler, 1967), although in more subtle forms.

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