Sublimation—does it work?
May 10, 2009 11:17 AM Subscribe
Is the theory of sublimation—the idea of channeling sexual energy into creative or physical output—still considered valid? Is there evidence that it "works"?
posted by Busoni to Science & Nature (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I was reading a biography of Leonardo da Vinci, written fairly recently, as I recall, by a surgeon and science writer (Sherwin Nuland). In it, he states somewhat matter-of-factly the likelihood of Leonardo having channeled his homosexual desires into his art, such that expressions of his libido were nonexistent. This is paraphrasing, but that was the essential message. Now, I'm not an expert in psychology, but I thought such reliance on Freudian terms was odd. But since it was from an actual medical doctor, not a literature professor (which would have been less surprising), I began to wonder if there was something to it.
So, my question: is there evidence that this concept of sublimation is valid? Can a person make better art and be more productive by curtailing sexual activity? And conversely, can a person diminish or eliminate sexual desire by committing himself to his art or profession? I'll take personal anecdotes as well as second-hand ones.