Scott Barry Kaufman, a cognitive psychologist, and Carolyn Gregoire, a senior writer at the Huffington Post, have together created a gratifying overview of research on creativity in Wired to Create. Kaufman and Gregoire debunk the age old idea that creativity exists purely in the right brain. They explain how, in fact, creativity requires the whole brain, decreed by three main “super factors” of plasticity, divergence, and convergence. Plasticity, characterized by an openness to explore and engage with novel ideas, and divergence, reflective of a non-conformist mind-set, are processes that occur within the right brain hemisphere during the first broad stage of the creative process. Convergence refers to the left brain process of testing the ideas to ensure that they are “road-worthy” and make sense in a practical context. The interaction of these processes is seemingly both linear and non-linear; mindless and mindful; disordered and ordered. The creative person must be adept at paradoxes; adept at both digging deep and treading lightly.
The book references an historic study conducted by Frank X Barron in which high profile writers such as Truman Capote, William Carlos Williams, and Frank O’Connor, along with leading architects, scientists, entrepreneurs and other members of the 1960’s creative class were given a battery of tests. After extensive evaluations and assessments, the study revealed the following common personality “strands” that seem to transcend all creative fields regardless of medium.
The Seven Strands of Creativity
• Openness to one’s inner life
• A preference for complexity and ambiguity
• An unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray
• The ability to extract order from chaos
• A willingness to take risks
The results of Barron’s tests also revealed that creative people are more comfortable being more psychologically intimate with themselvesꟷ they dared to look deep inside, even at the dark and confusing parts of themselves. As a psychotherapist and an artist, I love the rich bridge connecting the cultivation of inner awareness with the creative process. To me, the creative “eureka” moment and the twinkling of therapeutic insight are more similar than dissimilar. In fact, there is so much overlap that they may very well be the same.
Having completed this insightful book, Kaufman and Gregoire’s work does a masterful job of explaining the “murky and ambiguous” process of imagination as well as the inherent qualities possessed by creative individuals who are drawn to it. This book is top shelf reading.
Mary Delaney is a licensed psychotherapist. Her areas of interest include Reclaiming Lost Emotions, Expressive Arts Therapy, Trauma, Relationships, Finding True Purpose, Attachment, and the Creative Personality. For more information visit www.creativecorecounseling.com