The Freud Museum

Events Archive

10 March 2002

Being Creative

Conference Report

The question of creativity is central to psychoanalysis, and Freud's work in particular. Not only his well known analyses of creative writers and artists, but in his analysis of dreams, phobias or symptoms as acts of unconscious creativity. The simple question of 'how an idea comes into your mind' reveals the influence of the multi-layered and dynamic unconscious discovered by Freud. Christopher Bollas continues Freud's legacy. It is an implication of his work that a 'person' is like a work of art. A person represents something through his behaviour, his style of doing things, his inhibitions and fears, the manner in which he falls in love and with whom, his interests and excitement. We project ourselves into the world through the activities that makes us who we are. In performing our everyday lives, our likes and dislikes and habitual modes of being, we enact, and act upon, the reality of the unconscious.

In his most recent book Free Association, published in the 'Ideas in Psychoanalysis' series, Bollas takes the 'fundamental rule' of psychoanalysis - say anything that comes into your head - and draws out its wide ranging implications for therapy and for life. An extraordinary form of unconscious communication in the analytic setting, free association is also, for Bollas, 'a form of personal creativity', and it is this thought which inspired the half-day conference 'Being Creative' held on March 10 2002. The event brought together creative individuals from four domains. Bollas himself, the psychoanalyst; Susan Hiller, the artist, whose installation 'From the Freud Museum' had recently been bought by Tate Modern; composer Robin Holloway from Cambridge University; and Blake Morrison, the author, poet and journalist, whose recently published memoir of his mother has achieved wide critical acclaim. Bollas introduced the proceedings with a beautifully written paper reflecting on the work of his fellow panelists, and the differing forms of free association that may come to play in their art. Each in turn spoke of their own processes of creation, illustrating their remarks with examples of their work, the circumstances of creation, the concatenation of ideas, intentions and emotions which infuse them.

This was an important event and an immensely enjoyable one. It was testament to the interest it aroused that with only three weeks publicity we managed sell out the Brunei Gallery holding nearly 300 seats. Rarely have speakers from such diverse backgrounds been brought together in a single public discussion.

This website uses cookies to ensure we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website. Find out more about our cookie policy.