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This article examines the early writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Otto Rank in terms of Harold Bloom's notion of an “anxiety of influence.” Like the “strong poets” in Bloom's theory, each of these innovators needed to resolve his ambivalence toward precursors to create new theories and approaches. Nietzsche and Rank are seen as “premature births,” thinkers before their time; both went beyond their own early works and attempted self-creation. Through an emphasis on affirmation of life despite death's inevitability, both were able to free themselves creatively. Rank drew from Nietzsche's philosophy and his example in developing an early existential psychotherapy.