The Artist and the Emotional World is an insightful and informative text. Written by psychoanalyst John Gedo, the book establishes the necessary framework for a comprehensive study of the connection between creativity and psychiatric illness. Gedo's examination opens with a chapter about something I originally considered to be something of a busy-work tactic - the dissection of the structure of creativity. After consideration however, I came to realize that a clear illustration of the creativity as an organism needed to be established before in-depth dialogue could take place. The analysis Gedo offers provides a common-ground jumping point from which to begin the examination. Most effective among his hypotheses is his adoption of the George Klein model of "vital pleasures" which are considered to motivate all sentient beings. Klein called one of these pleasures "effectance" and defined it as "the joy to be had through the sheer exercise of competence." (Gedo, 9) Gedo takes the Klein model further by noting that his clinical experiences had shown that accomplishment drew patients further into continued expression which relieved certain of the negative stimuli demonstrated in psychosis. From this experience Gedo determined that the mentally ill artist who received relief from pressing psychological conflict and an increase in happiness (no matter the duration or intensity) experienced an increase in self-esteem. The significance of such an effect can be seen against the relief of discrimination and misunderstanding that accompanies a cultural world-view of psychic illness, its causes and the persons who must wade through its challenges.
I did not anticipate enjoying this book at the outset and was happily through more than 132 pages before I realized I didn't hate it. I have been given a clearer understanding of exactly what it is I am searching for - a deeper relationship with creativity rather than a concise definition of it.