Portraits of the Artist: Psychoanalysis of Creativity and its Vicissitudes, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Portraits of the Artist

Psychoanalysis of Creativity and its Vicissitudes, 1st Edition

By John E. Gedo


330 pages

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Gedo's pathbreaking exploration of the psychology of creativity incorporates first-hand material drawn from his extensive clinical work with artists, musicians, and other exceptionally creative individuals. Using this body of clinical knowledge as conceptual anchorage, he then offers illuminating reassessments of the artistic productivity of van Gogh, Picasso, Gauguin, and Caravaggio, and the literary productivity of Nietzsche, Jung, and Freud.


"Gedo's writings reflect the posture of a skeptical humanist - passionate intellectual curiosity about all things human; optimism about the value of the individual; distrust of institutionalized constraints and their handed-down value systems. Moreover, there is a quality of implicit delight in his work, a kind of pleased sharing in the act of an individual's struggle to transform the burden of his experience into something creative, masterful, or transcendental - that is, to make it more than it was. He has a striking capacity to grasp and convey the unique nature of a person's experience at the individual's own subjective level, whether it be the creative person and his product, the patient and his distress, the attentive psychoanalyst in his perplexity. Gedo seems to have the gift of making such transactions come alive in a way that few of us can."

- Meyer S. Gunther, M.D.

"John Gedo is one of the most interesting minds presently engaged at the conceptual frontiers of practice and theory of psychoanalysis. One encounters in his writing the personal reflections comparing ways in which he once entertained certain clinical and theoretical problems with his current points of view on those problems. An intriguing aspect of Gedo's ongoing publications is the record they embody of how a career of a learned and brilliant psychoanalyst actually undergoes transformation. We have come to expect from John Gedo something other than enlightening confirmations of our shared sense of things. We have come to expect rather something surprising and challenging."

- Donald M. Kaplan, Ph.D.

"This is a brilliant, gemlike book: multifaceted, reflecting many sources, sparkling with ideas . . . a book that speaks of partnership in many ways. Psychoanalysis and art history are melded in it."

- Psychotherapy in the Arts

Table of Contents

Introduction, Gay I. Psychoanalytic Studies of Creativity: A Retrospect 1. Biographical Studies 2. Studies of Aesthetics and Creativity II. Clinical Studies 3. Creative Paralysis: The Captivity of Idleness 4. Barefoot and Pregnant: The Dilemma of the Woman Artist 5. Spared by the Fire from Heaven 6. The Psychology of Genius Revisited III. Historical Studies 7. On van Gogh, Picasso, and the Dynamics of Creativity 8. Creativity and Psychopathology: van Gogh and Gauguin as Prototypes 9. Terribilita: The Paranoid Monster as Creative Genius 10. On the Lamentations of Doctor Faustus IV. Creativity as Prophecy 11. Sigmund Freud and the Socratic Tradition 12. A Promise of Magic 13. Magna Est Vis Veritatis Tuae Et Praevalebit 14. The Air Trembles, for Demi-Gods Draw Near Epilogue: The Artist in the Age of Mass Culture: Prophet in the Wilderness

About the Author

John E. Gedo, M.D., retired in 1990 as Training and Supervising Analyst, Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. He is the author of numerous books for Analytic Press, including The Biology of Clinical Encounters (1991) and The Mind in Disorder (1998).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Applied Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Personality
PSYCHOLOGY / Creative Ability