Aesthetic Experience

Beauty, Creativity, and the Search for the Ideal


Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies (CPS) is an international scholarly book series devoted to all aspects of psychoanalytic inquiry in theoretical, philosophical, applied, and clinical psychoanalysis. Its aims are broadly academic, interdisciplinary, and pluralistic, emphasizing secularism and tolerance across the psychoanalytic domain. CPS aims to promote open and inclusive dialogue among the humanities and the social-behavioral sciences including such disciplines as philosophy, anthropology, history, literature, religion, cultural studies, sociology, feminism, gender studies, political thought, moral psychology, art, drama, and film, biography, law, economics, biology, and cognitive-neuroscience.

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George Hagman, LCSW is a psychoanalytic social worker in private and public practice in New York City and Connecticut. He is on the faculty of the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis and the Training and Research Institute for Psychoanalysis. A former artist and poet, he has written many articles and conducted numerous workshops about psychoanalysis, art and creativity throughout the United States.
Jon Mills

Associate Editors:
Gerald J. Gargiulo
Keith Haartman
Ronald C. Naso

Editorial Advisory Board:
Howard Bacal, Alan Bass, John Beebe, Martin Bergmann, Christopher Bollas, Mark Bracher, Marcia Cavell, Nancy J. Chodorow, Walter A. Davis, Peter Dews, Muriel Dimen, Michael Eigen, Irene Fast, Bruce Fink, Peter Fonagy, Leo Goldberger, Oren Gozlan, James Grotstein, R.D. Hinshelwood, Otto F. Kernberg, Robert Langs, Joseph Lichtenberg, Nancy McWilliams, Jean Baker Miller, Thomas Ogden, Owen Renik, Joseph Reppen, William J. Richardson, Peter L. Rudnytsky, Martin A. Schulman, David Livingstone Smith, Donnel Stern, Frank Summers, M. Guy Thompson, Wilfried Ver Eecke, Robert S. Wallerstein, Brent Willock, Robert Maxwell Young
"He brings to his task a remarkably extensive knowledge not only of psychoanalytic theory, but also of contemporary aesthetics and critical writing … Equally important is his ability to draw on his own years as a painter and poet. The latter vocation must have contributed to a prose style that is graceful and often very evocative. Beauty is now something that even the most informed cultural observers take seriously, as is attested to by Umberto Eco’s recent anthologies on beauty and ugliness. One could find no better psychoanalytic companion to these volumes than Hagman’s Aesthetic Experience." - in: Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 78 (2009)
"His book succeeds in outlining as far reaching a theory of aesthetic experience as contemporary relational psychoanalysis has yet produced." - in: Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, 13 (2008)
"… enriches our understanding of what is is to be human. … of interest to both theoretician and clinician." - in: Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry 36, 3 (Fall 2008)
"I believe that Hagman’s Aesthetic Experience is a worthy contribution to the field of psychoanalytic aesthetics. It could be a useful teaching tool in that it brings together in highly readable form a great deal of diverse material. Two of the chapters - the one on ugliness and the one on the sublime - are exceptionally useful and provide novel inroads in the field." – Francis Baudry, in: Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Vol. 55 No. 4
"The psychoanalytic literature on aesthetic matters is vast and wide-ranging … Rarely, however, has psychoanalytic reflection been directed to aesthetic experience as such and to the way the aesthetic dimension pervades human life. George Hagman’s book does this. … the material on ugliness and the sublime is particularly interesting. Hagman provides an extensive review of philosophical thought on beauty, both ancient and contemporary. Analysts who are interested in exploring the philosophical literature on aesthetics would do well to use this review as an introductory guide." - in: International Journal of Psychoanalysis 87(6)
"George Hagman looks anew at psychoanalytic ideas about art and beauty through the lens of current developmental psychology that recognizes the importance of attachment and affiliative motivational systems. In dialogue with theorists such as Freud, Ehrenzweig, Kris, Rank, Winnicott, Kohut, and many others, Hagman brings the psychoanalytic understanding of aesthetic experience into the 21st century. He amends and extends old concepts and offers a wealth of stimulating new ideas regarding the creative process, the ideal, beauty, ugliness, and –perhaps his most original contribution–the sublime. Especially welcome is his grounding of aesthetic experience in intersubjectivity and health rather than individualism and pathology. His emphasis on form rather than the content of an individual's aesthetic experience is a stimulating new direction for psychoanalytic theory of art. With this work Hagman stands in the company of his predecessors with this deeply-learned, sensitively conceived, and provocative general theory of human aesthetic experience." – Ellen Dissanayake, author of Art and Intimacy: How the Arts Began and Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why
Carl ROTENBERG: Foreword
One: Introduction
Two: Understanding Aesthetic Experience
Three: The Development of Aesthetic Experience
Four: Idealization and Aesthetic Experience
Five: The Creative Process
Six: The Sense of Beauty
Seven: Ugliness
Eight: The Sublime
Nine: Festival
Subject Index
Author Index
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