Freud on Art and Literature Essay by Ethan Cross

Freud on Art and Literature
The paper looks at Freud's conceptions about art and literature and the creative forces of motivation on an author.
# 24041 | 2,953 words | 7 sources | MLA | 2001 | CA
Published on Apr 15, 2003 in Psychology (Dreams) , Psychology (Freud) , Literature (General) , Art (General)

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This paper is about Sigmund Freud's concept of 'unconscious' and its relevance in the arts. The author discusses how Freud is commonly recognized as having invented the concept of the "unconscious". The author explains that the subordination of the "pleasure principle" by the "reality principle" is done through a mental process that Freud refers to as sublimation. According to Sigmund Freud, dreams and fantasies (or phantasies) are the symbolic expression and fulfillment of wishes and desires that as a result of sublimation by the "reality principle" cannot be fulfilled through daily life and are consequently repressed into the "unconscious." To Freud, "the motive forces of fantasies are unsatisfied wishes, and every single fantasy is the fulfillment of a wish, a correction of unsatisfying reality" (Freud 485). Freud affirms that dreams are disguised, hallucinatory fulfillment's of repressed wishes. He concludes that if expressed in undisguised form, they would be so disturbing that it would wake the dreamer from sleep. Freud's fundamental assumption is that the sublimation of the artist's unsatisfied libido is responsible for producing all forms of art and literature whether it be painting, sculpting, or writing. David H. Richter notes in his introduction to "Sigmund Freud" that Freud was once criticized by Carl Gustav Jung, a fellow psychoanalytic theorist, for insinuating that artists were diseased individuals creating art out of their own personal neurotic needs. The writer feels that Freud insinuates that art is primarily an escapist method, that "in an ideal world in which everyone had matured sufficiently to replace the pleasure principle by the reality principle, there would be no need for art" (Storr 103).

From the Paper:

"The historical tradition of scholarly theory has been one in which literary texts are subjected to scrutiny regarding whether they are either implicitly or explicitly ideological in nature. Arguably so, nothing reflects a society's fears, hopes, and desires about gender, class, and power more than what the society maintains about art and artists. A literary text is credible of fully reflecting the culture in which it was written, that is to say, it has the potential to embody certain sociological assumptions presented in the dichotomy between "normal" and "abnormal." Sigmund Freud, the patriarch of psychoanalysis, is associated with Charles Darwin and Karl Marx as being "one of the three original thinkers who have most altered man's view of himself in the twentieth century" (Storr 145). Yet, even literary theorists, including Freud, realized that "any comprehensive vision of human nature such as he provides must have implications for the nature of happiness, and for the relation of man's natural capacities to his normal or ideal state" (Sousa 196). That is, numerous later theorists and critics believe that Freud's own theories about the function and nature of the mind uncovered some fundamental truths about how an individual's notions of "self"are formed and how culture and civilization operate and are affected by these notions. Coinciding with Freud's own account, the significance of everyday action is determined by motives that are far more numerous and complex than people are aware of or commonsense understanding takes into account. The most basic and constant of motives that influence our actions are those of the unconscious, moreover, those that are difficult to acknowledge or avow. Freud's conception of the unconscious and his rediscovery of the importance of dreams encouraged painters, sculptors and writers to pay serious attention to their inner world of dreams; to find significance in thoughts and images they previously would have dismissed as absurd or illogical. Therefore it is plausible that notions of art and literature as described by Sigmund Freud, are created through the ramifications of the unconscious or the sublimation of an unsatisfied carnal appetite.""

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