06/01/2012 06:03 pm ET Updated Aug 01, 2012

Creativity: Through a Psychological Lens

Creativity is rooted in the complexity of the capacity to play.

The capacity for play emanates and radiates from a sense of safety, an internalized sense of "the other" and the "capacity to be alone" -- internally (Winnicott). To feel, express, promote, and actually execute creativity means having the ability to go inside, taking all that is known from the outside, swallowing and digesting it, messing around with it inside, and constructing it anew.

A synthesizing process.
An amalgam.
Making gold out of dross.
Fusing elements into something new.
The analytic third, as it were.
In whatever unique form it occurs/appears.

I don't believe it is feminine or masculine. I believe it to be a capacity and a practice. A practice in the sense of discipline... "testing, testing..." over and over again, able to push rejection/failure aside, and "come up with something new." Think of ingredients in cooking. Bringing together disparate herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits, meats and blending them so that their individual tastes and shapes are no longer distinguishable. They have, in fact, become something new. Think of a wardrobe of black. Black slacks and shirts, coats, belts, shoes, skirts, dresses. All in their own shape and fabric. How many unusual combinations are possible, creating ever a new look.

Creativity is born of a sense of freedom, expressed in play, practiced in order to achieve confidence, and expressed and shared. That expression takes courage and the capacity to be alone -- internally and externally. For with that individual expression comes the vulnerability to rejection of the unique vision. This unique vision is a deeply personal statement and part of the individual sculpture of who we are.

Creativity also takes a quiet mind and the ability to sit still. A giving up, if you will, of the manic defense. A position of not-knowing and the ability to remain in it for as long as it takes. Thus, a great deal of anxiety needs to be tolerated in this aloneness. It is a solitary experience requiring the ability to believe in, tolerate, and be patient with self. We must be able to bear the failures/disappointments/rejections whilst maintaining a good-enough sense of self.

If we ever needed creativity, it is now. We need to create new solutions, have new ideas, understand the world in a new, appropriate, and creative way. We need the third. We need to ask new questions, pose possible answers, play with possibilities, and take the time to be still.

For more by Ruth Neubauer, click here.

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