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Thompson, N.L. (1996). Perspectives On Creativity: The Biographical Method. By John E. Gedo, M.D. and Mary M. Gedo, Ph.D. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1992. 209 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 65:445-448.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 65:445-448

Perspectives On Creativity: The Biographical Method. By John E. Gedo, M.D. and Mary M. Gedo, Ph.D. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1992. 209 pp.

Review by:
Nellie L. Thompson

This volume, part of a monograph series sponsored by the Creativity Research Journal, explores the role of psychological biography in creativity research. It is co-authored by the psychoanalyst, John E. Gedo, and Mary M. Gedo, an art historian. In their Preface, the authors argue that the field of biography lacks “secure methodological guidelines.” Their principal goal is to fill this void (p. vii). The authors envision their book as a methodological sampler that draws on their respective researches to generate testable hypotheses on creativity. They provide several chapters devoted to individual biographical studies. These contributions are interleaved with three general chapters which explore a) problems inherent in every approach to biography; b) the issues involved when collecting data on living persons; and c) the possibility of developing testable hypotheses for creativity research from biographical studies. John Gedo contributes on Mozart, Freud, and a cohort of artists associated with pure abstraction in painting, while Mary M. Gedo offers studies of Goya, Magritte, and Roger Brown.

The chapter on the challenges of psychological biography sets out some of the problems associated with this approach, such as the need for the biographer to clearly separate himself or herself from the individual being studied. It also criticizes reliance on “rigid theoretical systems” as having no place in psychological biography. As an alternative the authors propose an eclectic use of theory and are dismissive of the value of clinical evidence in the biographical enterprise.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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