How Creative Energy becomes Destructive

From the moment I started reading this chapter in the book Science, Order and Creativity, I knew it would be on my mind for a long time.

Looking at the posts now, I see that I read the book in June. And still, everything I do, read and hear is in the light of that chapter.

Most of the chapters in that book were, although very interesting, way over my head. But somehow I just kept reading. And when I finally came to the chapter about creativity, I was really glad I did.

In several posts, I already looked at the aspects of that chapter that were the most remarkable.

Remarkable in the sense that creativity seems to be a basic need of humans, but because of several reasons, often does not get the chance to develop in a healthy way. The main reason was the need for approval that blocks creativity.

But the book is even more shocking. It says that if this basic need of creativity is suppressed, it becomes destructive.

What is even of greater danger to the child, in such an approach, is that it eventually brings about violence of various kinds. For creativity is a prime need of a human being and its denial brings about a pervasive state of dissatisfaction and boredom. This leads to intense frustration that is conductive to a search for exciting ‘outlets’, which can readily involve a degree of force that is destructive. This sort of frustration is indeed a major cause of violence in that the senses, intellect and emotions of the child gradually become deadened and the child loses the capacity for free movement of awareness, attention, and thought. In effect, the destructive energy that has been aroused in the mind has been turned against the whole creative potential itself.

Reading this I get all kind of ideas how that might work with different types of people. For those of us who are more outgoing, it might be easy to see how this destruction gets manifest in the outside world. But for others I can imagine this destructive energy to be going inside.

I think this is really serious. So based on that book, I wonder if the following conclusions would be too extreme.

  • Everyone is creative.
  • Everyone also wants to be accepted.
  • To be accepted, it is better to do what others expect from us.
  • As a result we never get to develop our creativity.
  • So this creative energy stays undeveloped, but therefore not less powerful.
  • It becomes destructive, going outside resulting in violent behavior, or going inside resulting in selfdestruction.

That would mean that creativity (in a broad as possible way) is so much more important than we all tend to think.

How creative energy becomes destructive


  1. Bohm’s “On Creativity” will give you a better picture : )

    If i remember well, he proposes creativity as the basic capacity of the mind to adapt, to act intelligently in every arising situation, to remain fresh and get new ideas, or maybe that’s part of my definition nowadays :)

  2. Yes, that is indeed his definition of creativity. Also in the book I talked about.

    I remember you mentioned the book ‘On Creativity’ before (and I forgot) but now I found it on Google books. It looks very interesting and very much in line with the chapter on creativity I mentioned in the post. So I now ordered the book and I will have it in a few days. Can’t wait!

    My main point in this post (and some other posts about that chapter) was to focus on the denial and suppression of creativity. What becomes clear to me more and more, is that creativity is often seen as a curiosity, something that only some people have. And most of the time not as something essential to every human being.

    But it is something that has to get the chance to be expressed. Which does not happen enough in our society. At least not yet. Because the energy is there, either acknowledged or not, and, as the book says, if it is denied it becomes destructive.

    I guess that is not a scientific fact, I even doubt there is any sound research done on that. But I think it makes very much sense. And that would make the denial of our creative nature an important cause of suffering in the world.

  3. Well, i guess the statement about the suppression addresses a lot of things that have already been researched in psychology.
    Most people are heavily conditioned = stuck in uncreative patterns, not to say neurotic, and this causes a lot of problems, conscious and unconscious.
    If the point is already lost in education, during childhood, you get violence and then non-violence to suppress it, conformity and anti-conformity, the confusion builds up in the human beings and in society as a whole.

    This reminds me of the fact that when a war breaks out, despite the hardships, most people consider it a period in their lives of greater liveliness and even happiness, and my guess is that there is more space to be creative in such a case, and also that they can vent their frustration, even while doing horrible things.
    Are you familiar with the works of Erich Fromm? He was very concerned with these issues.

    a little interesting excerpt from wikipedia: “… Fromm considered love to be an interpersonal creative capacity rather than an emotion, and he distinguished this creative capacity from what he considered to be various forms of narcissistic neuroses and sado-masochistic tendencies that are commonly held out as proof of “true love.”…”

  4. I was not familiar with the works of Erich Fromm, so I looked him up and found he had some very interesting views. There is a 3 part interview that I started listening, but I think I am going to listen a little more carefully because he said some really interesting things.

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