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Hladky, F. (1961). Creativity. Emanuel F. Hammer, Ph.D. Random House, 1961. 150 pp. $1.25.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(2):300-302.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(2):300-302

Creativity. Emanuel F. Hammer, Ph.D. Random House, 1961. 150 pp. $1.25.

Review by:
Frank Hladky, M.D.

Dr. Hammer, who is a research consultant at New York University, has been interested for some time, as have many others, in what makes creative artists creative and in what way the artist is different from the technician. The aim of the study reported in this volume was to “formulate hypotheses and find out what traits, feelings or attitudes correlate with creativity.” The subjects for the research project were gifted and promising high-school art students selected from various high schools in the New York-New Jersey area to attend the scholarship painting workshop at New York University. There were eighteen students in all, and over the course of the year-long work the faculty came to know the students and their work quite well. The faculty was then asked to judge which of the students were doing truly creative work and which merely facile work. Independently, Dr. Hammer administered a battery of psychological tests to each of the students and was able to uncover a number of factors which differentiated the “truly creative” from the “merely facile.”

In the book there are five case studies of the “merely facile” and five case studies of the “truly creative,” with the accompanying evaluation by the workshop faculty. There is some historical material, but in the main the data is obtained from psychological tests. The responses on projective tests were strikingly rich and although the sub groups were felt to be too small to warrant complete quantative comparison, the qualitative differences were impressingly consistent.

The “merely facile” group tend to value the outer appearances of things more than the inner substance. There is more reliance upon magical solutions to conflict. There was evidence of more immaturity, the responses were more often “popular” and not so original or personal. There is a preoccupation with failure and inferiority and a desire to give up competitive striving and take it easy. The “merely facile” show dependency cravings and conformity, a restriction of emotional content, but in interpersonal relationships they reach out toward others.

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