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Gilman, S.L. (1997). Who's Creative?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:601-606.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:601-606

Who's Creative?

Review by:
Sander L. Gilman

There has been a great deal of work on the problem of what creativity is and how it relates to intrapsychic processes. Beginning with Sigmund Freud's work on the creative, this question has been a major theme in our attempts to access and plumb the unconscious. For if the window to the unconscious (according to Freud) can be found in dreams, or parapraxes, or jokes, or paranoid fantasies, creativity is also one of the prime objects that psychoanalysis has used to access the unconscious. Yet it is clear that it is not ‘creativityper se that has been the object of analysis; it is the work of art, the aesthetic object that is parallel to the dream as the cultural expression of an underlying process that has been the object of study. It is as if the focus were only on the dream and never on the dream work. It is in the study of creativity, more so than in the other windows to the unconscious, that there is an easy equivalence between the ‘object’ and the ‘process’.

Freud himself recognised the complexity if not the impossibility of imagining the creative separately from the aesthetic object. After World War I Freud noted in his study of ‘Dostoevsky and parricide’: ‘Before the problem of the creative artist analysis must, alas, lay down its arms’ (1928p. 177). Or, as he stated in An Autobiographical Study: ‘[Psychoanalysis] … can do nothing towards elucidating the nature of the artistic gift, nor can it explain the means by which the artist works—artistic technique’ (1925p.

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