Academic journal article Organisational and Social Dynamics

Creativity: The Psychological, Social, and Political Risks

Academic journal article Organisational and Social Dynamics

Creativity: The Psychological, Social, and Political Risks

Article excerpt


As humans we are able to have an awareness of ourselves as separate entities; we have an ability to remember the past, to visualise the future, and to denote objects and acts by symbols; we are able to reason to conceive and understand the world; and we are able to use our imagination through which we can reach far beyond the range of our senses. To enable us to gain a deeper understanding of the field and the research it will be helpful to examine what we mean by creativity. Creativity has been defined by Storr (1972, p. 11), as "the ability to bring something new into existence". That something new, may take various forms. For example, it may be a new product, a new theory, a new work of art, a new paper, a new vision, or a new strategy. The view taken here is that creativity is not limited to a special class of people-such as artists or writers-or to special products or to special circumstances, as some have argued, rather, that creativity is a drive possessed by all. In addition, it is suggested that such is the nature of the drive that we have a compulsion to create. Indeed, we might well ask that if that were not the case, why should I (and others) continue to write papers such as this?

Freud (1908e) observed, that every child at play behaves like a creative writer. That is, he creates a world of his own by rearranging things in a new way which links things of the real world in a way that pleases him. This linking, said Freud, is all that differentiates the child's play from "phantasying". Furthermore, this linking is taking place in what Winnicott (1971) has referred to as the transitional space-the potential space between the individual and the environment. As Winnicott explained, the special feature of the potential space is that it depends for its existence on living experiences, not on inherited tendencies. Following Freud, Winnicott also explained that creative apperception depends upon linking subjective and objective, upon colouring the external world with the warm hues of the imagination.


I have described elsewhere (Stapley, 1996, pp. 122-140) that while we create in the imaginary world of the primary process we exist and bring our creations into being in the world of reality which is governed by the secondary process, a world that includes the super-ego. Our conscience which is directed by the super-ego and instructing us what we may do or not do is developed from the world of our reality. Consequently, to develop something radically new will almost certainly result in conflict with our conscience which will be instructing us how we ought to behave. In going beyond the limits set by the world of reality the ego reacts with guilt. Guilt is experienced with regard to those others that he or she opposes through his or her discovery, new paradigm, or whatever we choose to call it. Guilt is also experienced in regard to him or herself for daring to "step out of line".

This has been confirmed in workshops I have run over the past ten to fifteen years where well over a hundred members in several different countries in Europe, South America, Australia, and UK, and all without exception, have experienced both internal and external inhibitions when considering bringing their creations (problem solutions) into being. The most common experiences have been expressed as variations on: "I didn't think my solution would be good enough". In other words the guilt was acting as a psychological risk in going beyond the limits of reality; and on frequent occasions resulting in a stillborn creation. While guilt arising from a risk of daring to "step out of line" was expressed as variations of "I didn't want to be seen as a smart ass". Again the result would frequently result in a stillborn creation. The psychological risk is experienced as so great that the guilt inhibits them from exposing their creation to others. Clearly this is an important issue for all in any organisation or institution who rely upon creative and innovative thinking especially at a time of massive change. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.