Friday, 23 October 2015

PSY 3002 - Psychoticism versus Openness - excerpt from The Genius Famine by Ed Dutton and Bruce G Charlton

Psychoticism versus Openness


This emphasis on Destiny stresses that the genius has an unusual life, compared with normal people. But what does the genius get out of his unusual life?

Usually, he will simply enjoy being creative; and, indeed, being-creative will be a significant part of his sense of self, consequently he will be a noticeably different kind of person from the one whom we would see as ‘conventional.’

Hans Eysenck regarded creativity as an aspect of the Psychoticism trait – indicating a particular way of thinking and relating to the world which incorporated creativity as positive, and psychotic and psychopathic traits as negative, aspects of this trait.

Working more recently, British psychologist Daniel Nettle’s review of the psychological literature has shown that certain personality traits – in particular Openness-Intellect and Neuroticism – are associated with being creative, quite independent of being a highly successful creative – and indeed most personality psychologists nowadays regard Openness as the characteristic trait of a creative person.[1]

So which is the best way of conceptualizing the personality of a creative person? Is it the eccentricity and originality and semi-craziness of Psychoticism, or the novelty-generation; and clever, fashionable fertility of Openness?

This is a topic to which we will return, but in brief we favour the older concept of Psychoticism as a better description of creativity – and we have derived the Endogenous personality from Eysenck’s analysis of the genius. However, we have departed from Eysenck by emphasizing that the high Endogenicity variable is rooted in group adaptiveness, and not in individual pathology. Also, we focus on a brain specialized by an innate inner-ness of orientation as the basis of the personality trait cluster; whereas Eysenck explained higher Psychoticism in terms of a broader field of associations.

Our reason for our preference and emphasis for rejecting the currently dominant explanation of creativity by Openness and our advocacy of a development of the older idea of Psychoticism; is that Openness and Psychoticism (Endogenous personality) are at opposite ends of the General Factor Personality dimension: Openness is pro-social and Psychoticism/ Endogenous is a-social.

In other words, Openness type creativity is a response from a conscientious and empathic person to social demands or needs; while Psychoticism/ Endogenous creativity comes from the inner and innate drive of someone substantially indifferent to current societal self-awareness, knowledge and roles.

As such, we would suggest that ‘creative’ is not what you ‘do’ but what you ‘are.’

[1] Nettle, D. (2007). Personality: What Makes You Who You Are. Oxford: Oxford University Press.