A Spirit that Impels: Play, Creativity, and Psychoanalysis

Editor : M. Gerard Fromm

A Spirit that Impels: Play, Creativity, and Psychoanalysis

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : April 2014
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 288
  • Category :
  • Category 2 :
    Culture and Psychoanalysis
  • Catalogue No : 33526
  • ISBN 13 : 9781780491585
  • ISBN 10 : 1780491581
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This volume brings together some of the papers presented by leading scholars, artists and psychoanalysts at an annual Creativity Seminar organised by the Erikson Institute of the Austen Riggs Center. Looking at creativity through a psychoanalytic lens – and very importantly, vice versa – the authors examine great works, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, and William Gibson's The Miracle Worker; as well as great artists, such as Van Gogh and Lennon and McCartney, for what we might learn about the creative process itself.

Deepening this conversation are a number of clinical studies and other reflections on the creative process – in sickness and in health, so to speak. A central theme is that of “deep play”, the level at which the artist may be unconsciously playing out, on behalf of all of us, the deepest dynamics of human emotion in order that we may leave the encounter not only emotionally spent, but profoundly informed as well. The central questions of this book are how do we understand the creative process, what might psychoanalysis contribute to that understanding, and what opens up within and for psychoanalysis by engaging with the subject of creativity?

Reviews and Endorsements

‘The reader of this impressive interdisciplinary book will not only be engaged by the topic of the psychoanalysis of art, but also by the art of psychoanalysis. Resulting from a decade of Creativity Seminars at the Austen Riggs Center, the respected former director of the Erikson Institute, Gerard Fromm, has both written and commissioned insightful essays on a formidable range of subjects on artistic creativity in painting, photography, the novel, classical music, popular music, film, and, just as importantly, in the history and practice of psychoanalysis.’
— Michael Ann Holly, Starr Director Emeritus of the Research and Academic Program at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts and the author of The Melancholy Art

‘The Creativity Seminar at the Austen Riggs Center has been the scene of wide-ranging presentations by and discussions amongst a group of people equally well informed in current psychoanalytic practice and the scholarly study of the creative arts. Those of us who have not been privileged to attend now have the opportunity of listening in to the conversation through this extremely rich collection of papers by clinicians and scholars on the creative process and its manifestation in the lives and works of such diverse and fascinating figures as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Gustav Mahler, Vincent Van Gogh, and John Lennon and Paul McCartney. This is not your grandfather’s “applied psychoanalysis”; A Spirit that Impels presents the most sophisticated contemporary approaches to the intersection of clinical insight and scholarly research by a very distinguished group of authors.’
— Robert A. Paul, Charles Howard Candler Professor, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

‘Clarity about creativity and its place in the architecture of a healthy spirit isn’t easy to come by. Judging by this book, engaging this question is one of the things that gets psychotherapists out of bed in the morning. Reading it is like being a being a fly on the wall for their discussions – discussions interspersed with the testimonies of creative people. In the effort to say precise things about the tangled, complex interaction of internal and external influences, you can feel how much getting it right and saying it right matters, in part for the obvious reason that psychotherapy can and does save lives, but also because of the passion the therapists represented here have for their work.’
— Sam Waterston, award-winning stage, screen, and television actor, director, and producer

About the Editor(s)

M. Gerard Fromm, PhD, directed the Erikson Institute for Education and Research at the Austen Riggs Center for many years, where he is currently Senior Consultant. He teaches at a number of psychoanalytic institutes and is on the faculties of Harvard Medical School and the Yale Child Study Center. He is the editor of The Facilitating Environment: Clinical Applications of Winnicott’s Theory (with Bruce L. Smith, PhD) and Lost in Transmission: Studies of Trauma across the Generations. His most recent book, Taking the Transference, Reaching toward Dreams, reports on his clinical work at the Center.

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