Fin-de-siècle investigations of the ‘creative genius’ in psychiatry and psychoanalysis
in A history of the case study

This chapters examines the attempts by psychiatrists and psychoanalysts to popularise their research by choosing to analyse cases—and thus the phenomenon of—creative genius. It shows how psychoanalysis and its proponents co-opted and adapted the medical case study as an extant and authoritative rhetorical form through which to forge a new mode of enquiry. The ways in which psychoanalysts such as Isidor Sadger sought to incorporate and adapt sexological pathographies into psychoanalytic thought, shaped the responses within the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society (WPV) and fuelled a debate that directly contributed to Freud’s development of psychoanalytic case writing. The decisive sophistication of this discourse can be appreciated in Sigmund Freud’s dialogic-psychoanalytic case studies, which show his keen appreciation of the bond that tied middle-class readers to revered creative artists. Yet Freud hesitated (or perhaps thought it fruitless) to challenge this reverence and left the complex quantification of results to his pupil Otto Rank.

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A history of the case study

Sexology, psychoanalysis, literature

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