On the Horizon: The Psychoanalysts and the Writer
Spouting liquid fire at anyone who may dare disagree with them, two psychoanalytic doctors have gone over the top with books just published into an area of the human spirit which their master had declared a scientific No Man’s Land. “Psychoanalysis must lay down its arms before the problem of the artist,” Freud had concluded. He didn’t really mean it, explain our savants, interpreting other Freudian quotations. Besides, Freud believed in scientific progress, and time has been passing. In the early days psychoanalysis had captured alive very few writers, Dr. Bergler in his The Writer and Psychoanalysis points out—he himself has “couched” thirty-six; and from this roundup derived enough data to dissolve all mysteries regarding what was to Freud “unanalyzable genius.” For his part, Dr. Schneider, in his The Psychoanalyst and the Artist, putting in no claim that he is surpassing Freud on the basis of “clinical” experience, bounds past the front lines with a résumé of Freud’s remarks on art, augmented with speculations of his own; on the other hand, he seems more interested in art and literature than Dr. Bergler.
To go beyond Freud in this field, our doctors would, you might imagine, need to be endowed with greater knowledge, a more precise theory, a deeper imagination, a superior experience of art and of artistic creation—above all, perhaps, to be better writers, thus proving their qualification for an introspective study of the phenomenon of composition. The magic of Bergler’s Thirty-Six and Schneider’s O[edipus]-Complex-Plus dispenses with these requirements. It will reveal not only what was hidden from Freud but from Poe, Goethe, Dickens, Delacroix, Picasso, Kafka. “It is vain,” says Dr. Bergler, “to question the creative person himself about inspiration.” It isn’t that Goethe et al didn’t want to know or that they were so dumb. They suffered the historical handicap of lacking the “arms” of psychoanalysis by which they could have found out what was happening to them when they composed.
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