Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Performance of Creative Persons on the MMPI

The following is an excerpt from Anthony Storr, M.D.'s book about creative persons titled: The Dynamics of Creation, published in 1972.  In one of his books, Dr. Storr quoted with approval the work of my former treating psychiatrist, Stanley R. Palombo, M.D.

Some psychological tests, of which the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is the best known, purport to measure an individual’s tendency toward neurosis and psychosis by means of a questionnaire.  The questions are so framed that the individual's replies indicate whether he possesses depressive, hysterical, paranoid and other neurotic or psychotic traits or not.  It will not surprise any reader who has been patient enough to follow the argument of this book so far to learn that creative persons tested in this way do actually admit to more psychopathological traits than the average population, thus confirming the popular belief that artists are ‘mad’ or at least neurotic.  But, as I showed in the last chapter, they are also different from the general population in possessing greater ego-strength.  In other words, although their psychopathology may put them under greater stress than the average person, they have a superior controlling apparatus, and are thus no more, though perhaps no less, likely to suffer from neurosis and psychosis than anyone else.  These test results confirm our general hypothesis, and, especially for this reason, we must be cautious in interpreting them.  It may be that creative people because they are often so well in touch with what goes on inside themselves, answer such questionnaires with greater insight than the average person and therefore only appear to have more neurotic traits than other people.  The average are often unconscious of their neurotic propensities, tend to be self-satisfied, and often answer questions with less self-doubts than they ought.

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