Author: Katerina Gikopoulou,

Translator: Elissavet Botsaki

Is it the artist or his work that was created first? One could say that this question is similar to the famous one: did the chicken or the egg come first? Indeed, this is an issue which is recently studied by French professors and psychology students around me. But the answer seems to be so close that I started to delve into the issue and why not share the answer with you?

Scientifically proven findings on psychoanalysis suggest that it was the egg that did the chicken. But why is this true? Well, quite simply in order for the concept of the –mother- chicken to be true, we need the symbolic birth and creation of the egg itself, -the child-. In other words, no one can be considered a mother without giving birth to a child. All these theories developed by Freud, Lacan and latest psychoanalysts give an answer to this, so obsessive over the years, question.

However, there is another question that torments me all these years I studied Psychology through various forms of art and specifically through painting, creating. Once more, views are divided between Freud and Lacan. The first used to say “We create because of an occasion; because of something…” while the latter used to say “We create because of nothing”. Anyone can choose what to believe individually; after all it’s a matter of how we perceive things. However, their common ground lies to the fact that the artist is in a state of self-distance while creating. By self-distance we mean that the artist goes beyond himself, beyond his limits. Let me emphasize at this point that, from a psychological point of view, I focus on the artists who show a form of psychopathology. However, most of them hide a kind of “madness” inside them; I’d call this madness for creation not craziness, although, recently in psychology and psychopathology, there is a great debate on what is considered to be craziness or not.

But let me continue my thought regarding our initial question. Could the artist be the “cause” for his work? Yes, because he expresses a bit of himself through his work. J. Oury argues that all the creators gather pieces of them and collect them all together in their work.

However, could the artist also be a result of his work? Yes, because for the work to exist, first comes the artist. Without the artist there is no creation, and this is my answer to the question. So, in the end it is the artist as a human being and not only as creator that matters, not the work per se.

In the end, can art heal? No, but it certainly affects the creator. It certainly is of therapeutic nature, a means of expression, a relief; everything is different after being created. The change may not be radical, but there is always a “before” and “after” stage. However, what really is therapeutic is the intention for creation and the creation itself, a free expression and release of emotions.

How can art, psychology, creators and artists be related all together? Aren’t we all artists? Aren’t we creating something daily? Something small, our very own “something”. Let this “something” motivate us to appreciate ourselves a bit more, what we are, what we do, quite simply because we can, all of us!


Freud, S. (1986). Métapsychologie. Paris: PUF

Lacan, J. (1959). Séminaire VII. Création ex-nilo. Paris: Le Seuil

Oury, J. (1989). Création et Schizophrénie. Paris: Galilée.