In this book Donald Meltzer formulates his concept of ‘aesthetic conflict’, at the heart of personality development. Clinical material interdigitates with literary criticism by Meg Harris Williams illustrating the same theme. The revised psychoanalytic model of the mind that results suggests how the aesthetic aspects of just being born can have simultaneously a most violent and a most tender impact upon the human mind. The impact of the aesthetic conflict is investigated by the two authors in work with patients, in creativity and art. They demonstrate how the psychoanalytical process itself stands as an artform; and how clinical material, dreams, artworks, poems and plays can all be connected to the aesthetic conflict.