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Lipscomb, P.A. (1997). Aesthetic Pleasure and the Rhythms of Infancy. Psychoanal. St. Child, 52:140-155.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 52:140-155

Aesthetic Pleasure and the Rhythms of Infancy

Patricia A. Lipscomb, M.D., Ph.D.

Aesthetic experience involves the resolution of contradiction, accomplished in part through the viewer’s mental oscillations between antithetical constructs. These oscillatory phenomena evoke enjoyable associations with infancy’s earliest pleasurable experiences, which are themselves characterized by rhythmic oscillations that lay the groundwork for the developing sense of psychological separateness. A work of art, functioning as a special kind of transitional object, affords the viewer an opportunity to experience a pleasurable sense of achievement by accomplishing additional increments in the work of psychological separation. These two mechanisms account for some of the pleasure inherent in aesthetic experience.

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