Classes / NSU

Class Description

The New School University
66 West 12th St.
(btw. 5th & 6th Ave's.)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 229-5600

The classes offered
1. The Psychology of Creativity
2. The Psychology of Dreams
3. Dimensions of Narcissism

Instructor: Patricia A. Simko, Ph.D., J.D.

Class Time for all classes: Thursday, 10:00 AM – 11:50 AM

The Psychology of Creativity

Course NPSY 3839
15 sessions / Thurs., 10:00 a.m.-11:50 a.m.

Class Overview

In this 15-week class, we explore the psychological theories of creativity: the origins in the human psyche of the creative process, the factors that contribute to the expression and development of creativity, the psychodynamic correlates of creativity such as fantasy, the unconscious, primary process, ego functioning. We explore theories of creativity from various sources – Koestler, Freud, Jung, Kohut, Maslow, Csikszentmihalyi and others. Along the way, we encounter concepts such as genius, self-actualization, the flow. We also look at brain activity and its association to the creative process, an exploration made possible by recent technological advances. Finally, we explore the often posited associations between mental illness – especially bipolar disorder – and creativity. In addition, there are countless exercises during the class using our own creative process as it applies to the theories we are studying. With all of this, we manage to have a very good time!

Required Reading

Arieti, Silvano (1976) "Creativity: The Magic Synthesis" New York: BasicBooks, ISBN 0-465-01443-7.

Csikszentmihaly, Mihaly (1990) "Flow: The Psychology of Optional Experience" New York: Harper & Row, ISBN 0-06-016253-8. ----(1996) "Creativity: Flow & the Psychology of Discovery & Invention" New York: Harper Collins, ISBN 0-06-017133-2.

Koestler, Arthur (1964) "The Act of Creation" Hutchison of London.

Morrison, Andrew (1989) "Shame, The Underside of Narcissism" New Jersey: The Analytical Press, ISBN 0-88163-082-9.

Sternberg, Robert (1998) "The Nature of Creativity" Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-33892-1.

Weisberg, Robert W. (1993) "Creativity: Beyond the Myth of Genius" New York: W.H. Freeman, ISBN 0-7167-2367-0.

Wise, Anna (1997) "The High Performance Mind" New York: Tarcher/Putnam, ISBN 0-87477-850-6.

Recommended readings will be listed throughout the semester.


Week 1: Introduction to the theories of creativity. Creativity as product, process, trait. Measuring creativity. Self as source. The stages of the creative process.

Weeks 2-3: The role of fantasy, the unconscious, primary process. Accessing the unconscious wellspring. The relationship between creativity and intelligence. Freud, Kohut and psychodynamic theoreticians. The role of ego functioning and creativity.

Weeks 4-5: Jung’s contributions to the theories of creativity. Intuition, synchronicity, archetypes. Other modalities for accessing the unconscious. Visualization, hypnosis and other tools.

Weeks 6-7: The Creative Personality. Questions of nature v. nurture. Identity issues. Personality characteristics and behaviors. Arieti.

Weeks 8-9: Family dynamics, Sociological dynamics and creativity. Blocks to creativity; fostering and cultivating creativity. Culture and creativity. Arieti.

Weeks 10-11: Cognition and creativity. Creative problem solving. Characteristics of creative thinking. Convergent and divergent thinking. Lateral thinking. Symbolic equivalents. Shame. Sternberg, Morrison.

Week 12: Analogic transfer, humor. Self-actualization and experiences of the flow. Maslow, Csikszentmihaly.

Week 13: Genius and creativity. Weisberg, Gardner.

Week 14: The brain and the creative process. Brain activity and associations to creative production. Left brain/right brain. Perspectives from cognitive neuroscience. C. Maxwell Cade. Wise.

Week 15: Mental illness and creativity. Manic-depression (bipolar disorder) and unipolar depression and creativity. Jamison, Kavaler-Adler, etc.

Other topics as they arise may also be included in our discussion.


The Psychology of Dreams

Course NPSY 2444
15 sessions / Thurs., 10:00 a.m.-11:50 a.m.

From earliest times, dreams have been our attempt to make sense of our inner and outer worlds. We dream for many purposes--to resolve a problem, to gratify a wish, to relive an event, to give expression to our emotions. What all dreams have in common is the depth of their message, for dreams come from the most profound part of the self. In dreaming, we explore that mysterious part; we evolve and become. The class studies the history of dream theory, with a focus on 20th-century psychoanalytic theories of dream formation and analysis (Freud, Jung, Erikson, Kohut, etc.). We also explore the creative expression of the self through dream interpretation and work together on understanding ourselves and growing through our dreams. (3 credits)

Class Overview

In this class, we present and discuss the various theories of dream formulation and meaning. We explore the psychodynamic origins of modern dream theories, and proceed to the present biophysically based theories.

Required Reading

Gay, Peter "The Freud Reader" Norton and Co., 1989 (Barnes & Noble)
Jung, Carl "Man and His Symbols" Doubleday, 1964 (Barnes & Noble)
VandeCastle, R. "Our Dreaming Mind" Ballantine Books, 1994 (
Rock, Andrea "The Mind at Night" BasicBooks, 2004 (Barnes and Noble)

Recommended Reading

Barrett, D. "Trauma and Dreams" Harvard University Press, 1996 (Amazon)
Garfield, P. "Creative Dreaming" Simon and Schuster, 1974 (Barnes & Noble)

WEEKLY OUTLINE: Specific pages to be read will be assigned the week before the date for class discussion.

1. Introduction to dream theory. Overview of the semester. Presentation of the history of dream analysis. Reading requirements. Techniques for remembering dreams.

2. Classical dream concepts. The ground-breaking work of Freud in the Analysis of Dreams.
Reading Assignment: Freud

3. Freud, continued. Concepts of primary process, drive theory, structural theory.
Reading Assignment: Freud

4. Carl Jung and his contributions to the theory of dreams.

5. Jungian concepts, continued. Archetypes, primary process, the collective unconscious.
Reading Assignment: Jung

6. Erik Erikson and the manifest dream. Discussion of the validity of the manifest content in dream analysis.

7. Content analysis, themes, narrative, meaning of various symbols in dreams.
Reading Assignment: Van De Castle

8. Heinz Kohut and the concept of the self-state dream. Analysis of the self through dream symbols.
Reading Assignment: VanDeCastle


9. Trauma and dreams; nightmares.
Reading Assignment: Van De castle, Barrett

10. The repetitive dream; dream work, generally; grief and dreams, creativity and dreams.
Reading Assignment: Van De Castle, Garfield

11. Healing in Dreams.
Reading Assignment: Van de Castle, Garfield

12. Lucid dreaming
Reading Assignment: Van de Castle, Garfield

13. The physiology of the dream state. Latest findings in physical research. The state of the brain and the body in dreaming.
Reading Assignment: Rock

14. Latest findings, continued.
Reading Assignment: Rock

15. Overview of class and review



Dimensions of Narcissism

NPSY Course 2446
15 sessions / Thurs., 10:00 a.m.-11:50 a.m.

Class Overview

The study of narcissism is of increasing interest to students of the human mind and personality. Current psychological theory recognizes the early life phase (the narcissistic phase) as being critical to the formation of the key components of the self. In this class, we learn about the dimensions of the self commonly known as the “narcissistic dimensions,” how they are formed, and the meaning of the part of the self in the overall healthy psychological functioning of the individual.

Required Reading

Freud, S. "On Narcissism, Standard Edition, 7" Hogarth Press, 1953.
Miller, A. "The Drama of the Gifted Child" Basic Books, Inc., New York, NY, 1981.
Morrison , A. (Ed.) "Essential Papers on Narcissism" NY University Press, NY, NY, 1986.
Morrison, A. "Shame" The Analytic Press, New Jersey, 1989.

Reading Recommended

Almaas, AH "The Point of Existence" Diamond Books, Berkeley, CA., 1996.
Kohut, Heinz "How Does Analysis Cure" University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1984.
Rogers, Annie "A Shining Affliction" Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1995.
Stern, Daniel "The Interpersonal World of the Infant" Basic Books, NY, NY, 1995.
Ulman, R and Brothers, D. "The Shattered Self" The Analytic Press, New Jersey, 1988.

WEEKLY OUTLINE: Specific pages to be read will be assigned the week before the date for class discussion.

Introduction: Why study psychological theories of narcissism? What is it? And why is it relevant today?

The concept of the self: the narcissistic constellation in the personality.
Reading assignment: Morrison, A. (Ed.) Stern.

Etiology of self disorders: object relations (Mahler) and narcissism.
Reading assignment: Morrison, A. (Ed.)

Parsing narcissism: Almaas, Kohut and Bursten.
Reading assignment: Morrison, A. (Ed.), Almaas

Concept of the continuum of self organization; narcissistic traits, characteristics and defenses.
Reading assignment: Morrison, A., (Ed.)

Identity and self representations: who we are…and why.
Reading assignment: Almaas, Stern.

Other dimensions of the self: idealization and twinship.
Reading assignment: Kohut.

Heinz Kohut’s concepts: the selfobject, optimal frustration, transmuting internalization.
Reading assignment: Kohut, Almaas


Damage to the self: trauma and other narcissistic injury.
Reading assignment: Morrison, A. (Ed.) Kohut, Ulman.

Shame, the underbelly of narcissism.
Reading assignment: Morrison, Kohut.

Narcissistic affects: feelings specifically associated with narcissistic dimensions of the self: rage, elation (bliss), emptiness, terror.
Reading assignment: Morrison.

Empathy: the path to healing.
Reading assignment: Morrison, Rogers, Stern, Kohut.

A call to grief:
Reading assignment: Alice Miller.

As narcissism matures: maturity, wisdom, humor, creativity.
Reading assignment: Kohut.

Summary of course material


NYU Bio:
Patricia Simko, Ph.D., J.D., NYU; faculty member and training analyst at the Training & Research Inst. in Self Psychology; core faculty member, New School B.A. Program; former Asst. State Atty. General of NY; former Director of Domestic Violence Prevention Project at NYC Victim Services Agency; psychotherapist in private practice.