I get a lot of grief from therapists because, in their view, I don’t act like other patients in psychotherapy. One of my past psychiatrists said to me: “You don’t seem clear on what you are supposed to be doing here.” That psychiatrist also criticized me because of the content of my dreams — as if I have any control over my dreams.
Reading through some material on the personalities of creative people I wonder: will the creative person approach therapy like a conventional patient? Aren’t some aspects of the creative personality adverse to compliance with and unquestioning acceptance of the therapist’s interventions?
Based on the literature, can’t we say that the creative therapy patient will have the following characteristics relating to independence of thought?
1. The creative person will be more complex psychodynamically and have greater personal scope.
1a. The conventional patient will tend to be non-complex.
2. Creative persons will be independent in their judgments and not readily acquiesce in the therapist’s interpretations.
2a. The conventional patient will be compliant and readily acquiese in the therapist’s interpretations.
3. Creative persons will be more assertive and dominant in their opinions.
3a. Conventional patients will not assert their viewpoints in a dominant way with their therapist, but will tend to be compliant.
4. Creative persons will reject suppression in the control of impulses.
4a. The conventional patient will suppress his impulses when asked to do so.
5. Creative persons express only part truths.
5a. Conventional patients will express simple, comprehensive observations.
6. In addition to seeing things as the therapist does, the creative person will see things as the therapist does not.
6a. The conventional patient will tend to see things the way the therapist sees things.
7. Creative persons are independent in their cognitive faculties, which they value very much.
7a. Conventional patients will not show independence of cognitive faculties nor will they place a great value on their cognitive faculties.
8. Creative persons are more capable of holding many ideas, and comparing more ideas. (My current therapist has complained about all the issues I raise in my sessions.)
8a. Conventional patients will tend to struggle with a few, simple ideas at a time.
9. Creative persons see a more complex universe.
9a. Conventional patients will tend to see a simplistic universe.
10. Creative persons are more conscious of unconscious motives and fantasy life.
10a. Conventional patients will not be conscious of unconscious motives and fantasies. Conventional patients will not be concerned with the content of their unconscious wishes, conflicts or prohibitions. Conventional patients will not be concerned with the role of unconscious motives in their daily lives.
11. Creative persons place a high value on freedom.
11a. Conventional patients will place a high value on compliance with and acceptance by the therapist.
12. Parnes believed the creative person will extend effort in idea production.
12a. The conventional patient will not extend effort in idea production.
Phillip Weissman believed that the ego functions of conventional persons engaged in work differ from the ego functions of creative persons involved in creative productions. “In ordinary work, the synthetic function works without the dissociative function, and produces established useful solutions. In creative work, the synthetic function is re-enforced by the dissociative function. Their combined functions hold in abeyance the established solutions, thus permitting new, original ones to be synthesized.” Akhtar, S., ed. Good Feelings: Psychoanalytic Reflections on Positive Emotions and Attitudes.
Weisman also believed the creative individual has the ability to diverge the energy originally invested in persons into creative work. (Is therapy a creative work for the creative individual?)
Is it possible that psychotherapy for the creative person is a creative activity in which the creative patient’s synthetic function is re-enforced with the dissociative function; whereas, for the conventional therapy patient therapy is more like “work” in which the dissociative function does not play a role? Might there be identifiable (and possibly significant) differences in the entire approach to therapy by creative versus conventional patients?