12.4.06

psychological health and creativity

> have you ever noticed how the theme of “psychological freedom” constantly appear in most theories on creativity? It’s as if psychological freedom is a requirement for creative thought.

>> that’s true. In some form or another, the concept of psychological freedom is viewed to be a necessary prerequisite and a catalyst for further development and expression of creativity. Maslow acknowledges this as an internal locus – an absence of fear. Rogers went on further and sets the concept in a more concrete manner as a conditional requirement which can be set both internally or externally.

> well, it does make sense. Whether we are talking of everyday creative expression or the big C, the absence of any distractors can enhance the creative process. and yet, think of this: the scientists and researchers of Stalinist Russia, who lived on daily fear of their lives, produced some of the world’s greatest discoveries and invention – sometimes beating their counterparts in the west who lived in freedom, cold coffee, and stale donuts.

>> that comparison is a bit limited because the competition you are talking abut mainly concerns with military research. Even so, you make a point. If Rogers were to observe the conditions (physically and psychologically) that the scientists of the former Soviet Union (especially during the reign of that psychopath) were subjected to, he would have several hundred (or several thousand) counterexamples for his X and Y conditions.

> since we are speculating what-ifs anyway, what do you think might be Stalin’s reaction if he had read these works that advocate for psychological freedom? Do you think he might apply the principles to his researchers?

>> probably not. I don’t think he has what Rogers calls “Extensionality”. Mad as he is, Stalin is also known for being so stupidly stubborn. Plus, I think the idea of freedom, in whatever form, is repugnant to him. He is one of the prime counterexamples I have for those who equate psychopathology with creativity.

> well, for Maslow, general creativity and psychological health go together. In fact, as one of his thesis, self-actualization requires psychological health.

>> and even if he does differentiate between everyday creativity and big C, I believe that a great majority of creative people (regardless of how big their “c” is) are happy and psychologically healthy.

> you’re such an optimist, aren’t you?

>> and also a coldly calculating person. I’m full of contradictions. It’s kind of surprising that I liked the case-study approach employed by Gruber and Wallace in this particular discussion of creative evolution. I would normally have preferred a more quantitative experimental approach, but their approach is very interesting.

> your perspective seems to fit well with that quote from Piaget: “I’m not really interested in individuals, in the individual. I’m interested in what is general...”

>> and never expecting that rainbows can be explained by the properties of a humble raindrop? That is indeed the case especially in the field of creativity. Isn’t it ironic, that in studying creativity, the most unique of all psychological processes, we aim to fit everything in a general overarching theory? Perhaps the best explanations are provided by the individual creative person. Unique processes to explain unique talent, as explained by unique individuals.

> but isn’t his facets just another way of categorization and their approach still aims to fit creativity into a general system?

>> in a way, yes. The facets systematize creativity and are used to explain the general process of creative thought. However, their case-study approach is what makes their systematization unique and interesting. Instead of a surgeon operating on hundreds of hearts to finally conclude the effects of cholesterol, they just operated on a few exemplary ones. However, the uniqueness of each case-study puts a limitation on the generalizability of the results. There is a limitation that what Gruber and Wallace discussed regarding their cases might not be generalized for all creative processes.

> so is it a choice then between qualitative and qualitative methods? Which is more suitable for investigating the creative process?

>> that is a question the individual researcher have to answer on his or her own.

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