Dear Siri

July 1, 2021

Though inquiring into the nature of creativity is an integral potential of creativity itself, linking that to the psychoanalytical notion of infantile drive is invalid. I hope that, by “drawing insights from multiple disci-
plines and my own experience,” you show your IPA audience that therapeutic motives can’t be a valid basis for understanding healthy creativity. In particular, the therapeutically-vital notion of uncon-
sciousness is a concept of emancipatory need, whereas non-conscious-
ness (vital for creativity) includes capabilities and potentials that are “there” for individuation, not for dissolution.

Positive psychology has by now strongly established the intrinsicness of self-enhancive interest (“Positive Psychology among Infants and Young Children,” ch. 12 of the Oxford Handbook of Postitive Psychology, 2021). Infants are drawn into appeals of things (phenomenally as if by “the things themselves,” as the phenomenological mantra went). We’re fundamentally drawn to what’s interesting because curiosity is intrinsic to being intelligent. Potentials show themselves phenomenally, not as such refusing themselves or hiding themselves. They “await” one’s capability to be there with them.

Desire to play with what’s appealing belongs to all children, of course, yet desire to be intentionally novel is uncommon, and the novelist (in this early generic sense) is not yet really creative in an educated sense. Getting to There isn’t primarily a matter of emancipatory interest (governing therapeutic efficacy of engagement), rather of amplification of capability to appreciate.

The appeal of individuation that becomes, for some persons, notably creative arises from unusual potentials—which is why researchers on creativity turn to models of novel-making which are specifically in terms of desire to be unusually novel (e.g., ch. 7 of that link). Therapeutic working-through is commonly called for, but that’s instrumental to the motivating interest in important novelty.

But the psychoanalytical notion of the infantile is part of a therapeuti-
cally-interested analysis of regression which is conflicted. No doubt, “Psychoanalysis has long linked the creative human impulse to the infantile,” but that is outdated by work in developmental psychology which long ago outgrew therapeutically-interested roots of theorizing.

So, I hope that your presentation intends to draw psychoanalytical thinking into developmental aspects of creativity itself (not therapeutic interests seeking to theorize from clinical settings).

That kind of difference (developmental interests vs. therapeutically-based interests) was what split Jung from Freud, as they were pioneers in the inception of developmental psychology as such, which long ago left behind motivation by therapeutic interests, in work by Piaget, Winnicott, and contemporary work in developmental psychology of creativity, specially led by Howard Gardner and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (e.g., Creativity and The Evolving Self).

Though creativity in integrally involved with problem solving, with facing dissonances, and even engaging conflicts of interests, incongruances, etc., it’s not motivated by conflict. It’s motivated by aspiration, even (proximally) by enchantment with prospects of significant novelty (even chancing to be truly original). The history of associating art and madness documents the socially-induced difficulties of creativity—the therapeutic need that works itself out through creative capability. But creativity works best without (or beyond) specifically emancipatory need.

I want to assume that you agree.

There is no “umbilical” connection, even in a figurative sense. The notion of innateness is moot, because individuation of the brain is prenatal, and the thin barrier of the uterus has exposed the fetus to language and color and feeling months before “birth” (which is not literally a birth, but merely passage out of the womb).

The efficacy of umbilical hormonal signals for development is involved by the fetus’s incipient mind in its own prenatal individuation that belongs to itself, relative to its gestational environment (but not absolutely). It’s no kind of seed-to-sprout process, rather an engagement of the fetus with its uterine/umbilical environment in the fetus’s own individuation (relative to ongoing uterine experience).

At natality, individuation is already well on its way (e.g., able to distinguish novel experiences from past ones). The neonate is already engaged in thrilled curiosity by way of its own self-enhancive interest.

A hallmark of creativity is a flourishing of “Jung’s” “Inner Child” that never goes away.

Your Inner Child was delightfully evident in your bubbly moments of your May DW interview. “The girl within” is thriving.

Best wishes for your work!

Gary E. Davis