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Madness and Creativity

Ann Belford Ulanov

Publication Year: 2013

Analyst and author Ann Belford Ulanov draws on her years of clinical work and reflection to make the point that madness and creativity share a kinship, an insight that shakes both analysand and analyst to the core, reminding us as it does that the suffering places of the human psyche are inextricably—and, often inexplicably—related to the fountains of creativity, service, and even genius. She poses disturbing questions: How do we depend on order, when chaos is a necessary part of existence? What are we to make of evil—both that surrounding us and that within us? Is there a myth of meaning that can contain all the differences that threaten to shatter us?

Ulanov’s insights unfold in conversation with themes in Jung’s Red Book which, according to Jung, present the most important experiences of his life, themes he explicated in his subsequent theories. In words and paintings Jung displays his psychic encounters from1913–1928, describing them as inner images that “burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me.”

Responding to some of Jung’s more fantastic encounters as he illustrated them, Ulanov suggests that our problems and compulsions may show us the path our creativity should take. With Jung she asserts that the multiplicities within and around us are, paradoxically, pieces of a greater whole that can provide healing and unity as, in her words, “every part of us and of our world gets a seat at the table.” Taken from Ulanov’s addresses at the 2012 Fay Lectures in Analytical Psychology, Madness and Creativity stands as a carefully crafted presentation, with many clinical examples of human courage and fulfillment.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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Series Editor’s Foreword

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pp. ix-x

Ann Ulanov’s meditations in relationship to The Red Book resonate with my own. She is correct in that reading that book precipitates a crisis. As the Chinese say, a crisis is both dangerous and an opportunity to grow and develop. Reading The Red Book brought back memories of my own brush with suicide. ...

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pp. xi-xii

My abiding thanks to Carolyn Fay whom I met at her Houston Center many years ago when my late husband, Barry Ulanov, and I lectured there. We were struck by the quality of her creative presence manifested in the art, music, dance, and presentations. ...

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pp. 1-4

Madness and creativity share a kinship. These four chapters present two halves of the same whole. The first two meditate on forms of madness. Chapter 1 takes up madness in ourselves, of breakdown, breakup, breakthrough in our personal lives. Madness is real; we all know about it; we can be shattered by rejection, captive to post-traumatic stress disorder after exposure to war or crime. ...

Part One: Madness

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1. Personal Madness

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pp. 7-19

Madness belongs to all of us. It comes in many forms and many degrees, from the craziness at the bottom of our neurotic symptom to a derangement that engulfs our whole life. Madness is simpler than it looks: it is our effort to express unbearable pain. Pain of shame, of humiliation for “not having the goods”; ...

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2. Collective Madness

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pp. 20-38

When our ruling principle and formations of the good, of God, of reality break down, and when we find we must develop the least developed part of us, we find at the bottom of that lowest point evil looking at us coldly, dragging our light into the abyss. Clinical experience bears this out. ...

Part Two: Creativity

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3. Compelling Complex

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pp. 41-70

This third chapter begins our focus on creativity and its relation to madness. Just as madness lurks in our creativity and threatens to make dead its aliveness, so does creativity lurk in our madness. That is an astounding and heart-supporting fact. Clinical work over years brings me to see that the easiest way to get at this kinship of creativity and madness is to look into our own complex. ...

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4. Creative Return

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pp. 71-94

The fourth legacy of our repeating complex is so surprising that it needs its own chapter. What is this rebirth like? What gets born? What is living in the space transformed from the gap our complex opened up in us? We know that the repetition of our complex is the psyche’s attempt to widen the space between our ego and the complex’s reiterations, ...


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pp. 95-106


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pp. 107-112


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pp. 113-118

Further Reading, Back Cover

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pp. 134-138

E-ISBN-13: 9781603449953
E-ISBN-10: 1603449957
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603449496

Page Count: 136
Illustrations: Bib. Index.
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 841793957
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Madness and Creativity

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Jung, C. G. (Carl Gustav), 1875-1961. Liber novus.
  • Mental illness.
  • Jungian psychology.
  • Creative ability.
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