Common Confusions

Several recognitions need to be kept in mind in order to hold CSPT concepts large enough and avoid confusion:

It is important to appreciate that, while for simplicity we talk in terms of categories—Early, Middle, and Late personality “types”—all CSPT variables exist along continua. We need to keep our view dynamic and systemic. When we say a color is “green,” at the same time we know that there are lots of different greens, indeed that there is no absolute line that makes one color blue green and another greenish blue. In the same sense, with any one personality we are dealing with unique balances and interplays—the expression of a multifaceted life.

The most frequent confusion in getting started with Creative Systems personality concepts involves viewing “later” personality style as somehow more evolved than “earlier” ones. Remember that creative stages and personality styles are separate concepts. Each of us goes through the same sequence of creative realities in the course of our development (and within any endeavor we undertake). At the same time, different people at the same developmental stage—and with the same capacitance—have special affinities for the qualities with which a particular stage imbues reality. The latter defines personality style.

It is also important to appreciate that we are dealing ultimately with organizing dynamics, not simply behaviors. Although we may talk in terms of common professions or common beliefs, these are, at most, pointers. We can find major exceptions to every such behavioral generality. Indeed the exceptions are where the most interesting learning often lies. (It is fascinating to walk into a setting and “smell” dynamics that you would not expect.) As well, we often find professions and beliefs juxtaposed in a particular style that behaviorally we might never expect. For example, people who become policemen and people who become criminals frequently have closely related personality dynamics. Primary energetics are best thought of as territories of experience, “realities.” (Thought of in this way, it is not surprising that policemen and criminals might often have personality dynamics in common. They live and work around related concerns.)

A common initial objection when encountering CSPT ideas is to think of it as “just another set of boxes to put people in.” CST reminds us that there are two equally dangerous way to fall off the road when encountering human differences. We can put them in categories that diminish our appreciation for their complexity (at the extreme, we can be bigots). But just as dangerously, we can ignore differences, in the process dismissing what makes a person unique and limiting capacity for effective communication. Much of CSPT’s particular effectiveness comes from how a creative frame helps us “think about living systems in living terms.” This doesn’t mean that CSPT concepts cannot be used in harmful ways. But when applied well, they will most often increase our appreciation for the unique life of systems we wish to understand.

A further important source of possible misunderstanding relates to the incredible variability that exists with any temperament Axis. While each Axis reflects the reality of a single creative stage, within the reality of that Axis are sensibilities that mirror aspects of the creative whole that span from the most germinal to the most manifest. Lower Pole and Inner Aspect types draw from more germinal sensibilities. Upper Pole and Outer Aspect types draw from more creatively manifest sensibilities. A Late-Axis personality can in fact be more concerned with creative beginnings than an Early-Axis personality. (This would be most likely where the Late-Axis personality had a strong Inner or Lower emphasis, where the most creatively germinal parts of Late-Axis had primary emphasis.)

The different Axes are best thought of as creative “territories,” each holding a unique, complex diversity. This is part of why we tend not to recognize temperament differences—we see all the diversity we need within our own slice of things. (When we say “opposites attract,” that general refers to polar opposites within our own Axis, not different Axes.) There can be great overlap between Axes with regard to any particular characteristic. For example, you find strong intellects in any Axis and very creative or deeply feeling people in each as well. And yet there are deep differences. With familiarity, we can see that each Axis is a unique organizing reality that gives even very similar-seeming personality characteristics distinct meaning and coloration.