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October 18, 1976

Creativity: The Magic Synthesis

JAMA. 1976;236(16):1893-1894. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270170059038

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Everyone agrees that creativity is a good thing to be encouraged and nurtured. But there is less agreement as to what it is, how it develops, whether it can be cultivated, and, if so, how. Professor Arieti, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and recognized authority on schizophrenia, has devoted much thought to this subject. In a stimulating attempt to answer many questions about creativity, he has brought to bear his wide experience with psychotic individuals and his extensive knowledge of literature and art.

Arieti points out that creativity goes beyond spontaneity and originality in that it brings about desirable enlargement of human experience. The creative work may make us laugh, give us aesthetic pleasure, induce a feeling of transcendance, or increase our scientific understanding. Arieti suggests that it is based on a synthesis of primary process (the illogical, primitive, and unconscious) and secondary process thinking (the normal, waking, and logical) to form what