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Modell, A.H. (1970). The Transitional Object and the Creative Act. Psychoanal Q., 39:240-250.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 39:240-250

The Transitional Object and the Creative Act

Arnold H. Modell, M.D.


1. The use of actual geologic formations by paleolithic artists suggests that the creative act consists of the interpenetration of the actual and the inner world. This description is analogous to Winnicott's concept of the transitional object.

2. The transitional object is a watershed concept in that it has a progressive and regressive side correlated with the acceptance or nonacceptance of external objects.

3. The failure of creativity may be related to a failure to accept the separateness of objects. The successful creator must have some love for and fidelity to tradition outside of the self that he transforms in the creative act.

4. These views are discussed in relation to Freud's and Róheim's theories of the origin of culture, theories that place special emphasis on man's prolonged and helpless infancy with the consequent need to fend against separation anxiety.

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