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Most researchers of the rationalist bent enumerate phases to the creative process, but note that these phases lack elements of the unconscious.  Ego states may be associated.  Thus, feelings of excitement and satisfaction that may occur when we create are explained by association.  Hattiangadi goes so far as to dispute the word "genius" to describe people of extraordinary ability.   Those who have a thorough understanding of intellectual traditions and a full appreciation of the problem confronting them need only be reasonable to produce what is often perceived as products of inspiration.  

One early approach to the rationalist study of creativity was psychoanalytical, emphasizing motivational and temperamental characteristics.  That method was soon overtaken by information processing.  Computers provided an analogue that enabled researchers such as Newell and Simon to explain complex behavior as the interaction of environmental demands and memory.  Recognition of a problem prompts initial search, quick comparisons, and retrieval of a promising response.  

The information-processing approach attempts to explain behavior, not merely describe it, albeit reductionistically.  Newell and Simon choose, however, to omit the possible effect on this system of sensory and motor skills and of motivational and personality variables.  Their specific concern is with the role of the central nervous system.  Thus, the effects of certain personality or experiential factors upon inventive thought receive scant regard.  

The clean lines of the rationalist approach would divest the creative process of the unexpected.  Rather than a time during which extended unconscious thinking occurs, when it does occur illumination may be more the result of objectivity-generating distance from complexity.   Close examination of inspiration often reveals the presence of discernible mental steps between problem and solution.   From this perspective, the unconscious merely regulates the routine.  



With the impetus of Wertheimer and Kôhler, the Gestalt approach to understanding creativity took intriguing turns, many of which, alas, confront us with dilemmas.  In a paper presented at a University of Colorado symposium on creative thinking, Mary Henle proposes four characteristics of creative thinking, none of which, she cautions, should be considered necessary or sufficient:  

bullet Correctness—that the useful may be distinguished from the 

Of course, such a distinction is not always easily made.   
bulletNovelty—although beware novelty for its own sake.   
bulletFreedom—from the constraints of the familiar.   
bulletHarmony—for we are less interested in the discovery of 
isolated facts than in those that tie the disparate together.   

Henle also notes conditions that foster creative thinking:  Being immersed in the subject matter, yet still detached; being capable of utilizing error, for, as Kôhler illustrated, not all errors are committed equal; and, crucially, being receptive.  

In an attempt to understand, Gestaltists compared creativity to other traits. They assumed that many qualities contribute to creativity and that creative talents are not confined to a fortunate few.  People such as Guilford who applied factor analysis to creativity rejected the monolithic view of intelligence and tried to see how the two might be related.  

What is the relationship between intelligence and inventiveness?  Scatterplots of creativity between IQ values of 60 and 150 show low creativity at the low end of IQ, but, as noted in early studies, no correlation at the other.  Thus, intelligence appears to set a limit on the potential for creativity and yet is no guarantee of it.  In 1969, Wallach and Wing performed the study that seemed unequivocally to separate the two.  They measured four aspects of their subjects, incoming freshmen at Duke University:  intelligence, grades, creativity in terms of divergent thinking, and creativity in terms of production.  Their results were straightforward.  There was good correlation between intelligence and grades; there was good correlation between both measures of creativity.  There was no correlation between either measure of creativity and intelligence or grades.  Creativity and intelligence are distinct.  

Of all things it might be, the bedfellow of creativity is probably not going to be conformity.  

Conformity undermines creative powers by weakening trust in the validity of one’s own thought processes.  Richard Crutchfield discussed results of measuring tendencies to conform among military officers, college sophomores, and research scientists, the latter of whom had been recognized for originality in their fields.  The presence of conformity, as measured in comparative conformity scores among various groups, was inverse to the presence of creativity.  The extreme conformist doubts his personal adequacy.  This makes him timid to express ideas divergent from those of his group, and likely to defer to its dictates, regardless of the actuality of outer pressure.  This is poor soil in which to root creativity.  This is not to say that, to be creative, one must become an outcast.  A truly independent thinker is able to achieve a balance between self-reliance and group alliance, and can resist pressures to conform without becoming a pariah.  

Now, the area of debate between the perspectives on creativity.  In contrast to the rationalist view, the Gestalt approach recognizes, as a sometime condition for creative release, a need to relinquish the will.  This temporary suspension enables the interplay of reason, emotion, and unconscious process.  Thus receptive, we are also more prone to what Jerome Bruner calls the hallmark of creative enterprise:  effective surprise.  It is briefest recognition, succeeded by quick acceptance.  Connections occur where before there were none.  Things fall suddenly, sublimely into place.  

Bruner posits another condition to creative enterprise, one intimately connected with the receptivity that enables effective surprise:   the freedom to be dominated by the creation. One begins, in his example, to write a poem.  Soon the poem begins to develop its own tempo and meter, perhaps unrelated to the poet’s original intent.  The poet begins to resonate to the power of her creation.  This is a powerful and intensely personal experience, unmistakable and unforgettable, ineffable and seldom discussed.  Bruner quotes the words of a friend:  "If it does not take over and you are foolish enough to go on, what you end up with is contrived and alien."  



Today, most researchers agree on initial study and final verification as requisites to the creative process.  As to the interval between, there is dispute.  The argument turns on whether or not creative thought can be brought to heel.  To my mind, the kind of thought that can be taught and evoked at will is productive thought.  It is active.  It produces solid, satisfying results.  Productive thought leaves one content with accomplishment and replete from exertion of the will; knowledge of having comported oneself well imparts a potent satisfaction.  Sometimes, however, that process gives rise to surprise permutations -- the unexpected insight, the unsolicited twist that confers new dimension.  That kind of thought is creative.  It is passive.  It leaves one feeling singled out, affected by something external, grateful for the privilege; paradoxically, the peaceful aftermath to surrender of the will is a feeling of consumed and transcendent integration.  Such an experience cannot be summoned forth like a genie from a bottle.  

I believe two processes are involved in creative enterprise. The primary element of productive thought is reason.  When productive thought is sufficiently compelling and elegant, the effect is genius.  When, within this process, the sudden introduction of unconscious factors serves as a catalyst to logic, the process becomes what I called creative.  Pure reason can result in genius, but the creative process need not be pure reason.  

Both processes are glad additions to the human condition.