Tuesday 18 November 2014

The Creative Triad: Need for a new concept to replace Eysenck's Psychoticism in relation to creativity?


I am beginning to believe that - important though it was in understanding creativity - it may be necessary to replace Eysenck's personality trait of Psychoticism to distinguish between adaptive and pathological causes.

The sub-traits which constitute Psychoticism have been summarised here:


In brief they are

High Psychoticism is in bold font; Low Psychoticism is normal font.

1. Cold - versus warm, charming
2. Aggressive - versus submissive
3. Egocentric - versus follows groups expectations
4. Unempathic - versus sympathetic, feels the emotions of others
5. Tough-minded (i.e. impervious to events) - versus tender-minded, strongly affected by experience
6. Antisocial - versus gregarious, needs other people
7. Impersonal - versus life consists of intense, direct relationships
8. Impulsive (behaviour dominated by current emotions) - versus behaviour dominated by predictions or weaker emotions.
9. Creative - versus applies peer-approved, learned rules and traditions 
I believe that there may be two distinct reasons why a person is rated as high in Psychoticism:

1. One cause is pathological, i.e. functional brain damage from various causes - innate/ genetic, traumatic, drugs or toxins, and psychotic diseases. These increase the susceptibility to altered states of consciousness, and damage evolved psychological adaptations for social living.


2. The other cause is adaptive - the evolution (probably by some kind of group-selected mechanism, associated with an extreme K of slow Life History) whereby some minority of individuals are developmentally specialised for socially valuable roles in creativity; by means of a variety of lop-sided maturational trajectories that lead to some highly developed cognitive motivations and intuitive abilities at the cost of others.

For example, among the most extreme creative - creative geniuses - there are 'always' some deficits indicative of an imbalance away from 'normal' abilities and motivations - for example a reduced interest in sex and reproduction, reduced interest (and often aptitude) in social affairs (including indifference to the opinions of others), reduced motivation to achieve power, status, wealth and other socially-valued 'goods'.

And highly creative people often use states of day-dreaming, trance, sleep and other altered states as the primary mode of their creative thinking - but not because these states are imposed on them by disease and deficit; rather as a deliberate strategy, because these states are when creativity is facilitated.

These altered states are usually only deployed in solitude - and switched-off when full alertness is needed (driving a car, operating dangerous machinery etc.), or in social interactions.

So high creativity is a package of positive abilities and emotions, and also a relative indifference to aspects of life which would tend to interfere with creative autonomy and self motivation.


However, pathology might mimic evolved creativity, when there is focal damage to social/ sexual psychological adaptations - leading someone to pour all their interest into a specific and idiosyncratic interest. But such pathologically focused individuals would lack the positive aspects of creativity - the type of mind capable of make wide and unusual associations and jumps of logic. Pathological individuals would perhaps be obsessed with a subject - but only in learning about it and not in making original contributions to it.


So, what could be a term for the trait displayed by those High Psychoticism individuals who are creative?

Perhaps Creativity is indeed the proper and best term?

So, the category of Psychoticism could be broken down into sub-categories of 1. Pathological Psychoticism, and 2. Adaptive Creativity - and the list of sub-traits modified accordingly.


I suggest the following Creative Triad as characteristic of those who display adaptive (and presumably evolved) high level creativity - Creative Genius:

1. A characteristic mode of thought - primarily intuitive, associative and generative; rather than logical and rational and factual. This mode of thought is attained in some kind of altered state of consciousness, usually attained in solitude - rather than full alertness and social interaction.

(Logic, reason and facts are of course necessary to creation - but come after the creative process; as a test applied to the products of creativity.)

2. High ability of a specific kind - different in different creative people: mathematical, inventive, artistic, philosophical etc.

3. Internal, self-motivation to channel one's major energies into the subject of that High Ability.

(High specific ability is of little value unless it is fed with sufficient time and energy to develop that ability, and to apply the outcomes of that ability.)