Dancing with the Unconscious: The Art of Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalysis of Art

Author(s) : Danielle Knafo

Dancing with the Unconscious: The Art of Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalysis of Art

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Combining theory and therapy - the clinic and the studio - Danielle Knafo's Dancing with the Unconscious extends the dialogue between psychoanalysis and art and shows how each discipline informs the other.

The first chapter in Part One frames Knafo's discussion of the analytic encounter by describing it as a dance performed by two unconscious minds. Through the narration of a treatment with a transgendered patient's struggle with unconscious conflict, she demonstrates the profound creative possibilities inherent in free association, transference, and dream work. Chapters that follow investigate the use of regression in psychoanalysis and art, the relationship between creativity and substance abuse, the creative transformations of trauma, and the psychological partnership between solitude and creativity.

Part Two begins with a provocative analysis of the dreams of Freud and Jung and shows how unconscious contents reveal the genesis of each psychologist's respective theory. Chapters that follow include a reevaluation of the film Blue Velvet through the lens of the primal scene, the symbolic expression of trauma and the attempt to repair it in the art of Egon Schiele and Ana Mendieta, and the spellbinding, sadomasochistic vision of writer and artist Bruno Schulz. This new work by Knafo illustrates how, taken together, the art of psychoanalysis and the psychoanalysis of art bear witness to the endless creativity and healing potential of the unconscious mind.

About the Author(s)

Danielle Knafo, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst and a professor at Long Island University and New York University. Her recent book, The Age of Perversion: Desire and Technology in Psychoanalysis and Culture, (co-authored with Lo Bosco) won the 2018 American Board of Professional Psychology Book Award.

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