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Schnier, J. (1954). The Psychoanalysis of Artistic Vision and Hearing: By Anton Ehrenzweig. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1953. 272 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 23:454-456.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:454-456

The Psychoanalysis of Artistic Vision and Hearing: By Anton Ehrenzweig. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1953. 272 pp.

Review by:
Jacques Schnier

Many analysts have been tempted to apply psychoanalytic knowledge to the elusive problems of æsthetics. Freud, Sachs, Reik, Klein, Sharpe, Ernst Kris, Harry B. Lee, and others have concerned themselves with the puzzling concepts of beauty, the creative process, æsthetic expression, and appreciation. But although major problems become more clearly defined and unconscious factors are investigated, the overall problems of æsthetics have never been adequately treated.

Ehrenzweig deals with what he calls the 'inarticulate' form elements hidden in the unconscious structure of a work of art and with the unconscious perceptions by which we actively create or passively enjoy these elements. In order to become aware of and understand these inarticulate forms, we must adopt an attitude similar to that of the analyst when he deals with manifest and symbolic expressions of the unconscious, a diffuse attentiveness mindful that these manifest expressions are only signals, signs, or substitutes for deeply repressed but highly significant impulses and thoughts.

The book is subtitled, An Introduction to a Theory of Unconscious Perception, and in the preface it is said to attempt a synthesis between psychoanalysis and the many superficial psychologies of perception such as nineteenth century introspectionism and the Gestalt and eidetic theories. The author explains that his 'attempts at psychological theory cannot claim to be more than an introduction to a new and practically unexplored field of psychology', and general problems of unconscious perception are examined only as they relate to æsthetics.

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