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Steiner, J. (1985). Creativity and Perversion by Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel London: Free Association Books 1984 pp 172 Hardback £11.95, Paperback £5.95. Psychoanal. Psychother., 1(2):79-84.

(1985). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 1(2):79-84

Creativity and Perversion by Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel London: Free Association Books 1984 pp 172 Hardback £11.95, Paperback £5.95

Review by:
John Steiner

This book by a leading French psycho-analyst is based on lectures and seminars written during the author's tenure of the Freud Professorship at University College London. It turns out to have more to say about perversion than about creativity which is not surprising since one of its central themes is the essential falseness of the pervert's creations. What she has to say about perversion is always interesting and gives a view of the subject which will be valued by English speaking readers.

Madame Chasseguet-Smirgel makes it clear from the start that she views perversion not simply as a type of aberrant sexuality but, as “an attitude of mind and a dimension of the human psyche, a temptation common to us all”. She emphasises the pervert's relationship with reality and she considers this reality to centre on the oedipus complex and to have as its bedrock the difference between the sexes and between the generations. “When the child comes to recognise the complementary nature of his parents genitality, he is reduced to feelings of his own smallness and inadequacy. Recognition of the difference between the sexes is thus bound up with recognition of the difference between the generations.”

“The perverse temptation leads one to accept pregenital desire and satisfactions (attainable by the small boy) as being equal to or even superior to genital desires and satisfactions (attainable only by the father). Erosion of the double difference between the sexes and the generations is the pervert's objective.

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