11.4.06

I had a happy childhood (I think)

> Happy childhood leads to mediocrity.

>> And how did you arrive to that earth-shattering conclusion? Since you will be hunted down by child welfare activists soon, you should be concise in telling me your line of thought leading you to this.

> Well, several findings seem to show that trauma in childhood often leads to the production of great geniuses. Simonton, Feldman, Gardner, and several others mentioned that traumatic events are usually present among individuals who became eminent later on. And when you look at it from a Freudian perspective, it kind of makes sense. Freud attributes most psychopathology to events that occurred during childhood. We know that there is a correlation between psychopathology and creativity.

>> What Feldman said was that trauma had an effect on motivation, and not on the development of creativity itself. In other words, no amount of trauma can make an average individual into a Mozart.

> I agree, but what I’m also saying is that normal and boring childhood would lead to a normal and boring adulthood. The manifestations of “overexcitability” especially during the early years, tend to predict creativity. In fact, according to Dabrowski and Piechowski, if this overexcitability is not manifested, there’s a good chance that creative development is inhibited.

>> What does that have to do with your position that normal happy childhood leads to mediocrity? Normal people can manifest overexcitability. And it is not just emotional, overexcitability is manifested in five different dimensions. Although I would agree with you that childhood plays an important role in the development of potential for creativity. However – and this is important – I do not believe that it is the most significant factor.

> Of the factors or dimensions that affect the development of creativity, which one do you think is the most important and one that you can probably relate?

>> If you are only considering Feldman’s seven dimensions, I would have to say the cognitive processes (and this would include emotional) for the development of little “c” and social/cultural contextual aspects for big “C”. Big “C” goes beyond the individual – being at the right place at the right time is probably more important than raw talent in this aspect. Almost all the geniuses flourished at the time when their society or culture encouraged their potential to develop. True, these geniuses were gifted with exceptional individual abilities, but we cannot say that their abilities are greater compared to those who achieved less.

> So if you are stuck on an island, your hopes of becoming eminent is basically nil. That’s sad, considering that most of the world’s population are relatively isolated in terms of “supportive environment”. Only a few can be said to live within a society large, open, and diverse enough to promote the development of big “C”.

>> Not only that, even within a smaller group (such as a local community or even a family) the rise of eminence is limited to a very select few. The second-best will often be forgotten, clustered along with the others and classified together as “the rest”. This is because the development of great talent requires great effort of a number of people. Bloom’s study that only a small percentage of families produced more than one highly talented child shows that it takes so much effort such that most families only have resources to produce just one, if ever at all.

> Indeed. Sad, don’t you think? And although it is true that creativity is never developed in isolation, the world only remembers individuals who have stood out, and rarely the predecessors whose collective shoulders were stood upon.
Anyway, I should feel lucky that I was an only child.

>> But then I think you had a happy childhood, and thus according to your statement, will be doomed to mediocrity.

> Oops, that backfired! But hey, Howe mentioned some categories where people with happy childhood can develop into creative adults. Add that to the fact that I was probably a prodigy when I was a child...

>> Ah, now you seek support from Howe’s categorizations. It’s interesting to note that Howe seems to confuse creative achievement with being a prodigy. In his examples, he treats someone who can solve square roots mentally as a child as on the same level as a child who can compose original music. You might be the former kind of child prodigy.

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