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Rose, G.J. (2006). Lois Oppenheim: A Curious Intimacy: Art and Neuro-Rsycho-analysis. Hove: Routledge, 2005. ISBN 1-58391-806-X (hbk), 198 pp., $52.95.. Neuropsychoanalysis, 8(2):205-208.

(2006). Neuropsychoanalysis, 8(2):205-208

Book Reviews

Lois Oppenheim: A Curious Intimacy: Art and Neuro-Rsycho-analysis. Hove: Routledge, 2005. ISBN 1-58391-806-X (hbk), 198 pp., $52.95.

Review by:
Gilbert J. Rose

Edited by:
Bonnie Smolen and Douglas Watt

It is not unusual for a humanistic scholar to discuss art and psychoanalysis—if with mixed results. It is an added challenge for one to undertake the interrelation between art and the new field of neuropsychoanalysis. A Curious Intimacy is thus timely. More important, it is an informed and significant contribution. Lois Oppenheim, its author, is Distinguished Scholar, Professor of French and Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Montclair State University.

Taking theories of sublimation as its historical context, this book challenges the traditional notion that creativity serves primarily to repair early object relationships. It argues, rather, that creativity is rooted in biology and bases this on the biological principle of homeostasis. The reasoning is that creativity enhances bodily and psychological self-awareness; since self-awareness underlies homeostasis, creativity serves homeostasis.

This use of homeostasis is potentially problematic. It literally refers to the maintenance of relative constancy within the body of life-sustaining variables such as temperature, fluid balance, metabolic rate, and so on. Linking the biological, objective, verifiable principle of homeostasis to psychological self-awareness is something of a “stretch.” For example, focusing on the biological matrix of self-awareness omits many other major components of subjectivity like the vital world of fantasy, the role of object relationships, personal history, and culture.

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