The gift of saturn: creativity and psychopathology

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THE GIFT OF SATURN: CREATIVITY AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
ANTONIO PRETI, MD

1. Introduction: the difficult definition of creativity
2. Genius and madness
3. A broken mind: schizophrenia and the artistic temperment
4. The circular insanity: manic-depressive illness and the bipolar disorders
5. Mood disorders and achievement
6. An open conclusion
7. Related articles
8. Web sites
9. GlossaryINTRODUCTION: THE DIFFICULT DEFINITION OF CREATIVITY

Life in the metropolis increasingly depends on the ability to provide new and original solutions to old problems. This capacity to bring together knowledge and imagination is called "creativity". Creativity can be defined as many ways as it can be conceived.

As its simplest, creativity could be described as the ability to createproducts or ideas which are original and which posess a strong social usefulness. This definition, however, is not the whole answer. Frank Barron, one of the most important researchers in this field, offers a more articulate description of creativity. First creativity is considered in terms of the characteristics of the creative product and the social aknowledgement obtains. A criterion of usefulness isimplied in, although not essential to, this definition. Secondly the creative product can be considered in its own context: the difficulty of the problem resolved or identified, the elegance of the solution proposed, the impact of the product itself. Thirdly creativity can be conceived on the basis of the abilities that favour it, id est as skill or aptitude.

Creativity, in fact, can beproperly conceived as a cognitive capability separate from other mental functions. It appears increasingly independent from the complex of abilities grouped under the word "intelligence", although it has a strong interrelation with these mental abilities. Generally, creatively gifted individuals tend to score higher than the mean of the general population in tests measuring "intelligence", and are alsoevaluated as more intelligent than the mean of their peers by independent observers. Elevated performances in IQ tests, however, do not guarantee a proper utterance of creativity. The most complete studies on this topic (the Terman study on a group of gifted children followed through their lives, and the McKinnon study on a wide group of architects indicated as cleverer than the mean by theircolleagues) showed that intelligence gifted people have better social skills and health than the mean of people of their own age, although with higher suicide rates, but are no more creative than the general population. So, as indicated by the study of McKinnon, there is no correlation, above an IQ level of 120, between IQ scores and creative ability, however measured. Intelligence and creativity,hence, seem independent of the other cognitive capabilities which identify an individual.

The methods used in the evaluating of creative aptitude and ability are numerous and as ingenious the argument investigated demands them to be. In 1981 Dennis Hocevar, in a circumstantial review, sumarized the ten main methods used in studies on creativity:
Tests of divergent thinking
Attitude and Interestinventories
Personality inventories
Biographical inventories
Teacher nominations
Peer nominations
Supervisor ratings
Judgment of products
Eminence
Self-reported creative activities and achievements
From Hocevar D (1981): Measurement of creativity: review and critique. J Personality Assessment, 45: 450-464

Evaluation by third parties and comparison with biographies are the most usedmethods in large scale investigations. Personality inventories or tests for the evaluation of the individual's style of thought are frequently used with well selected samples of volunteers. One of the most ingenious methods of investigation was developed by Albert Routhenberg, who created a test of verbal associations in order to measure a type of cognitive thought called "janusian thinking"....
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