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Arnold, K. (2007). The Creative Unconscious, The Unknown Self, and the Haunting Melody: Notes on Reik's Theory of Inspiration. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(3):431-445.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(3):431-445

The Creative Unconscious, The Unknown Self, and the Haunting Melody: Notes on Reik's Theory of Inspiration

Kyle Arnold, M.A.

Theodor Reik writes that the cardinal distinction between his psychoanalytic approach and that of many of his contemporaries is his faith in intuition. He often derides more programmatic Freudian thinkers like Fenichel and Reich, caricaturing them as advocates of a psychoanalysis by rote in which creative insight is displaced by technical machinations. From a Reikian perspective, the heart of genuine psychoanalytic practice is the cultivation of flashes of unbidden insight. To be sure, Reik cautions that any burst of psychoanalytic intuition must eventually be tested by critical reason. However, it is the intuition itself, not its rational evaluation, which is for Reik distinctively psychoanalytic.

Although Reik's contributions have largely been forgotten by today's psychoanalytic scholarship (Nobus, 2006), his work creatively addresses several topics that have become central in recent psychoanalytic thought. Reik, like his contemporary Sandor Ferenczi, was one of the first analysts to explore the use of countertransference as a clinical tool. Reik reformulated the analytic encounter as a dialogue between the Unconscious of the analyst and that of the patient (Arnold, 2006; Kupersmidt, 2006; Lothane, 1981; Reik, 1936, 1948). He anticipated the shift from one-person to two-person accounts of drive and psychopathology, offering a compelling two-person theory of motivation and symptom formation (Arnold, 2006; Reik, 1925). Moreover, Reik (1933) questioned the notion of standard clinical technique, portraying analysis as a shared journey through surprises that cannot be prescribed by a preconceived plan of intervention.

Reik's

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