The Creative Personality Type: Paradoxes of Creative People

10 Paradoxes

The article “the 10 paradoxes of creative people” (from the excellent site Change Therapy), lists some of the paradoxes described by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (author of “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention“) :

1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest. … One manifestation of energy is sexuality. Creative people are paradoxical in this respect also.

They seem to have quite a strong dose of eros, or generalized libidinal energy, which some express directly into sexuality. At the same time, a certain spartan celibacy is also a part of their makeup; continence tends to accompany superior achievement. Without eros, it would be difficult to take life on with vigor; without restraint, the energy could easily dissipate.

2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time. … Another way of expressing this dialectic is the contrasting poles of wisdom and childishness.

As Howard Gardner remarked in his study of the major creative geniuses of this century, a certain immaturity, both emotional and mental, can go hand in hand with deepest insights. Mozart comes immediately to mind.

3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility. … Jacob Rabinow, an electrical engineer, uses an interesting mental technique to slow himself down when work on an invention requires more endurance than intuition: “When I have a job that takes a lot of effort, slowly, I pretend I’m in jail.

“If I’m in jail, time is of no consequence. In other words, if it takes a week to cut this, it’ll take a week. What else have I got to do? I’m going to be here for twenty years. See? This is a kind of mental trick. Otherwise you say, ‘My God, it’s not working,’ and then you make mistakes. My way, you say time is of absolutely no consequence.”

Continued in original article: The Creative Personality: Ten paradoxical traits of the creative personality, By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

A creativity self-test

For more stimulating questions, see the Creativity questionnaire on the page Self-tests: creative talent / personality – here is an excerpt:

Creativity isn’t reserved for artists and inventors — it’s a capacity we all share. For some, it’s a desire for self-expression; for others, a drive to explore possibilities.

Genius isn’t essential, just curiosity and an open mind. The fruit of creativity is self-discovery. Find a quiet spot and consider these questions:

1 There are many kinds of artists. Are you an artist of life — an inspired cook, a master of diplomacy, a stylish dresser? Write down all the ways you bring beauty, harmony, or flair to your surroundings.


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Originally posted 2008-06-21 17:58:03.


  1. Catana says

    I get so sick and tired of seeing overgeneralizations promoted as absolutes, especially those that are leftovers of Freudian psychology. Creativity doesn’t require eros, and I’m sure there are plenty of creative people who aren’t either highly sexed or very energetic.


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