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 Historiometric approach
[Humanistic approach]


Humanistic approach

The humanistic approach was a reaction to the deterministic psychoanalytic approach, which explained people's behaviour, including creativity, by biological drives, and behaviourism, which concentrated on isolated elemental behaviours, explaining them in terms of environmental stimuli. The humanists focused on non-biological motivational factors of creativity, such as self-actualization. They were more concerned with the process of creativity than the creative products or excellence. The Humanists shared Jean-Jacque Rousseau's belief that a man is essentially good, though often corrupted by social institutions. They valued spontaneity and creativity as a means of self-actualization, which allows an individual to find a 'real self, ' to live an authentic and meaningful life and escape social and cultural control. This approach was closely tied with existentialism and counter-cultural movement of the 1960s.

Predecessors of humanistic view on creativity, Alfred Adler (e.g. 1935) and Otto Rank (e.g. 1932/1960) rejected Freud's suggestion that creativity resulted from the sublimation of a sexual drive, and suggested instead that it was successful expression of a positive drive to improve the self and gain mental health.

Adler (Adler and Wolfe 1927; Adler 1956) argued that a basic motivation for creativity is compensation for physical or intellectual disability. For example, the search for knowledge is a compensation for perceived ignorance and fear of death motivates creation of works of lasting value that can survive their creators.

Rank (1932, 1968) referred to the development of the creative personality in terms of three stages of development and sometimes in terms of three types of person - the normal or average man, the neurotic man, and the 'artist' or man of will and deed - each of whom typify the characteristics of a particular development stage.

Fromm (1955) described three types of interpersonal interaction - symbiotic relatedness, withdrawal-destructiveness and love - and proposed that the 'productive' or 'creative person' is one whose interaction with others are characterized by closeness as well as independence.

Maslow (1968) developed the theory of self-actualization defined as 'the process of becoming everything one is able to be.' He believed that creativity was self-sufficient and there was no need for an observable creative product because the real object of creativity was the self of the creator. He described creative process as spontaneous, effortless and innocent. This view was criticized as too complacent. As Ochse (1990: 24-25) commented:

There is little doubt that the Humanistic school's loss of the fact that people who create are good workers was largely due to Maslow's own description of the creative process - as effortless and easy, like the creativeness of all happy secure children. Only at the end of his life did he acknowledge what he had previously regarded as 'secondary' and unnecessary to inspiration - plain hard work.

Rogers (1976) generally agreed with Maslow that creativity is the outcome of a fully functional personality, but insisted on the necessity of the creative product. However, he saw no fundamental difference in the creation of observable work such as poem, a symphony or a scientific theory and creating or recreating one's own self thus making an attempt to accommodate 'productive' and 'self-actualizing' conceptions of creativity.

The Humanists' school inspired the development of techniques for enhancing creative expression through preventing defensiveness and developing love, trust, unconditioned acceptance, lack of judgment and evaluation, and freedom of expression. The practical application of these principles may be found in such phenomena as encounters groups, the popularity of meditation practices or brainstorming techniques. The Humanist approach also had a deep impact on the development of transpersonal psychology and psychedelic approach to creativity.

Humanistic approach. Dictionary of Creativity: Terms, Concepts, Theories & Findings in Creativity Research / Compiled and edited by Eugene Gorny., 2007.
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