Metamorphosis: On the Conflict of Human Development and the Development of Creativity, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


On the Conflict of Human Development and the Development of Creativity, 1st Edition

By Ernest G. Schachtel


360 pages

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First published in 1959, Metamorphosis remains one of the great works of developmental psychology of the past century. From his thoughtful meditation on the assumptions of classical Freudian psychoanalysis, among them the pleasure and reality principles, the relations of drive and affect, and the nature and causes of infantile amnesia, Schachtel moves on to profound reflections on the senses considered both in terms of their evolving relation to one another during maturation and as variable ingredients in the perception and cognition of the adult.


“If a single book can be said to make a difference in lives, Ernest Schachtel’s great Metamorphosis can be appraised as that one. Rarely in art or science have wisdom and beauty of language come together so well in one work.”

- Jerome L. Singer, Ph.D.

Metamorphosis offers a vision of the individual as agent in his or her own becoming, of the conflicts and anxieties surrounding the potential to emerge from embeddedness, and of the ways in which perception becomes free or compromised. Schachtel explores the nature of thinking, attention, memory, and feelings with freshness, subtlety, and originality. This book was a breakthrough in its time. It remains a psychoanalytic treasure.”

- Darlene B. Ehrenberg, Ph.D.

"Metamorphosis is, quite simply, one of the great classics of psychoanalytic literature - and the depth and beauty of its writing means that it is one of the rare pyschoanalytic books that truly deserves to be called literature."

- Donnel Stern, Ph.D., Editor, Contemporary Psychoanalysis

"Schachtel's study of ontogenesis is one of the most important books in the history of American psychoanalysis. Whether discussing the emotions or 'touch' or considering 'objectification,' he brings a creative organization to his writing that is profound and illuminating."

- Christopher Bollas, Ph.D., Author, The Mystery of Things

Table of Contents

Foreword to this Edition - John Kerr

I. On Affect, Anxiety, and the Pleasure Principle

1. Freud's View of Affect

2. Affect and Action

3. Analysis of Specific Emotions: Hope, Joy, Anxiety, and Pleasure

4. Conclusion

II. On the Two Basic Perceptual Modes: Autocentricity and Allocentricity

5. The Two Basic Perceptual Modes

6. Objectification and Pleasure-Unpleasure-Boundedness in Different Sense Modalities

7. The Ontogenetic Development of the Two Basic Perceptual Modes

8. Secondary Autocentricity

9. General Attitude, Perceptual Mode, and Their Shifts

10. Perception as Creative Experience

III. On Attention and Memory

11. The Development of Focal Attention and the Emergence of Reality

12. On Memory and Childhood Amnesia

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Applied Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / General
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health