Goethe’s Path to Creativity
A Psycho-Biography of the Eminent Politician, Scientist and Poet
Goethe’s Path to Creativity provides a comprehensive psycho-biography of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a giant of modern German and European literary, political, and scientific history. The book brings this influential work by Rainer Matthias Holm-Hadulla to the English language for the first time in a newly elaborated edition.
Goethe’s path to creativity was difficult and beset by a multitude of crises, beginning with his birth, which was so difficult that he was initially not thought to have survived it, and ending with an infatuation that left him, at the age of 74, toying with the same kind of suicidal thoughts he had entertained as a 20-year-old. Throughout his long life, he suffered bitter disappointments and was subject to severe mood swings. Despite being a gifted child, a widely recognized poet, and an influential scientist and politician, he spent his entire life loving and suffering; nonetheless, he had the exceptional ability to endure emotional pain and to transform his sufferings creatively. The way in which he mined his passions for creative impulses continues to inspire modern readers. Readers can apply the lessons they have learned from his life and use Goethe’s strategies for their own creative art of living.
Goethe’s Path to Creativity: A Psycho-Biography of the Eminent Politician, Scientist and Poet will be of great interest to all engaged in the fields of creativity, literature, psychoanalysis, psychology, psychotherapy, and personal growth.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Goethe’s path to creativity Part I Goethe’s life and work 1 Childhood and youth: Frankfurt, 1749–1765 2 Crises during his student days: Leipzig, 1765–1768 3 Return to the family home: Frankfurt, 1768–1770 4 Flight from love: Strasbourg, 1770–1771 5 Refuge at home again: Frankfurt, 1771–1772 6 Passion and renunciation: Wetzlar, 1772 7 Period of genius: Frankfurt, 1772–1775 8 Early dramas: Reflection of Goethe’s emotional conflicts 9 Period of maturity: Weimar, 1775–1786 10 Rebirth in Italy, 1786–1788 11 His great love and public influence: Weimar, 1788–1805 12 Political changes and new passions: 1806–1823 13 Love in old age and late creativity: 1821–1832 Part II Creativity, art of living, and illness 14 Life as creative self-realization: The Wilhelm Meister project 15 Goethe’s creativity from the perspective of modern creativity research 16 Goethe’s creative art of living and self-treatment strategies 17 Goethe’s creative bipolarity and "healthy illness" Part III Goethe’s legacy 18 Goethe’s late poem Legacy 19 Goethe’s final letter 20 Goethe’s "inner fairytale": The psychological messages of Faust II
Rainer Matthias Holm-Hadulla is Professor for Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine, and Psychotherapy at Heidelberg University, Germany. He is a Training Analyst (IPA) and teaches at universities in Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile and at the Pop-Academy, Mannheim. Professor Holm-Hadulla is the author of over 100 scientific papers, as well as six books on creativity, counselling, and psychotherapy, including The Art of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Karnac 2004) and The Recovered Voice: Tales of Practical Psychotherapy (Karnac 2017). Previous versions of his Psycho-Biography of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe have been published in German, Spanish, Italian, and Persian.
"Among the numerous books on Goethe, the work of Rainer Matthias Holm-Hadulla takes an exceptional position. It provides reliable information about Goethe's life and work and unlocks the secrets of his creativity. Goethe is understood as a personality who was able to overcome individual crises in artistic creation. A book not only for Goethe friends, but also for those seeking guidance in today's world." --Jochen Golz, President of the Goethe Society in Weimar, Germany
"Holm-Hadulla’s psychobiography of Goethe offers a psychology of creativity that is pleasantly devoid of any psychoanalytic or psychologic dogmatism. This is already apparent in the author’s approachable language, which steers well clear of jargon and mumbo-jumbo. The book provides perspicacious insights into the peaks and troughs of Goethe’s creativity, insights that one frequently seeks in vain in purely literary biographies." --Dieter Borchmeyer, Senior Professor of German Literature at Heidelberg University, Germany
From the journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt: "Reading this book is not only a great intellectual pleasure, but is also relevant to practical everyday life."
From the web site literature.de: "With this psychobiography of the great German poet, Rainer Matthias Holm-Hadulla has written an interesting, accessible, and very readable book based on recent findings from psychology, a book that is nonetheless universally valid."
From the journal Psyche: "Once again, the author has demonstrated his ability to vividly illustrate complex relationships to a readership beyond psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, and Germanists and to make Goethe, a colossal figure, accessible to us to an unprecedented degree."
From the magazine Psychologie Heute: "This book is timelessly stimulating and informative; it gives us a sharper sense of the many ways human beings are capable of coping."
From the web site literaturkritik.de: "A well-informed and articulately written study."
From the journal Jahrbuch Literatur und Medizin: "The passion the author has developed for his subject is infectious."
From the journal History of Psychiatry: "This is a highly recommended psychobiography for anyone interested in Goethe and his work, for students and teachers of German studies, and for psychologists. The book is easy to read and provides both a knowledgeable insight into the psychology of creativity and a better understanding of Goethe as an individual, a sufferer and an artist. Holm-Hadulla sensitively searches for clues without drifting into speculations about hidden psychological problems. His consolidated psychoanalytic-psychiatric findings enrich the field of psycholgical creativity research and provide an excellent overview of Goethe’s personal development as well as the circumstances of an exemplary creative and productive life."