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An Easy Way to Increase Creativity

August 1, 2009

A Scientific American article reports that recent ongoing research into creativity has produced an interesting finding. Our ability to be creative is not only determined by our inborn predisposition, but also by the situations we find ourselves in. Some situations increase our ability to think creatively.

One kind of situation that is found to invariably increase level of creativity are situations that allow us to get “psychological distance”. Think of the last time you found yourself in a city or country that you’d never been to before; suddenly all your assumptions about the environment, and yourself in relation to the environment, go out the window and you being to think more freely and creatively. This also has to be one of the reasons that going on holiday is so enjoyable and restful.

There are other ways to achieve psychological distance and I would argue that personal exploration in psychotherapy, or psychoanalysis, provides useful repeated experiences of psychological distance. Psychodyanmic therapists are trained specifically to facilitate the development of internal space, so that two dimensional thinking (me and the world) becomes three-dimensional (me, the world and me in the world) – this is our legacy from Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex and Melanie Klein’s elaboration of it.

The therapist through the analytic stance (structured way of behaving in the room with the client), interpretations (insightful and linking) and empathetic feedback (reflecting, drawing out unexpressed feelings), constantly challenges the client’s assumptions and the resistance to changing them. Through this work, the client is afforded an opportunity to experience something akin to the “psychological distance” described in the article. Long-term work in psychotherapy can develop this sense of psychological distance into¬† an internal resource to be called upon spontaneously.


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