The Influence of Otto Rank’s Concept of Creative Will on Gestalt Therapy

  • Bertram Müller


Consideration of Otto Rank’s ideas merits inclusion in a book on art and creativity in Gestalt therapy. Indeed, the assertion by Perls et al. (1951) that Rank’s theoretical magnum opus, Art and Artist, is “beyond praise” (p. 395) is just one of many positive references to his works. In this regard, then, it appears all the more astonishing that in the further development of Gestalt therapy, precisely the contribution of this “great master” in research on the creative personality, creative life, and artistic creation as well as the use of such findings for the understanding and relief of mental suffering has as yet not been more intensively consulted. Certainly Isadore From, a founding teacher of Gestalt therapy, and Taylor Stoehr, Paul Goodman’s biographer, considered Rank’s writings for the development of Gestalt therapy as - if not more - important as the theories by Gestalt psychologists (Müller, 1993). Yet, an examination of the broader development of Gestalt therapy and practice suggests, unfortunately, that proper recognition of Rank has yet not taken place. Therefore, due to the scant number of theoretical publications by the most varied of Gestalt therapy authors on the subject of creativity in psychotherapy, I concur with Nancy Amendt-Lyon’s charge, that in spite of a few inspirational contributions on Gestalt therapy, as yet no conclusive theory of creativity in Gestalt therapy exists (Amendt-Lyon, 1999). Rank can provide crucial insight, and thus this chapter will partially readdress this shortcoming, restricting itself to the development and influence of Rank’s concept of creative will on Gestalt therapy.


Creative Expression Creative Individual Guilt Feeling Creative Personality Mental Suffering 
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© Springer-Verlag Wien 2003

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  • Bertram Müller

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