A beginning understanding of Creative Systems psychological concepts more generally helps with making use of CSPT distinctions. CST views how we see and engage our worlds in terms of a series of variables. Temperament as we usually think of it is only one.
The thesis that ties these variable together is that notion that human experience and interaction is creative. We are tool-makers and makers of meaning. Not only is human experience in each moment creative, it is creatively patterned—change and interrelationship each conform to characteristic and creatively predictable story lines. Examine the growth of an idea, the evolution of a relationship, or the developmental story of a life as a whole and you find similar dynamics through time. The same is true for relationships (both intra-psychic and interpersonal) at any developmental stage.
The key intersecting creative variables when it comes to personality include:
Patterning in Time variables: Creative patterning is most obvious with regard to developmental processes—what CST calls Patterning in Time. At different stages in any developmental process, different parts of the creative mechanism stand forefront and order experience. This sequencing defines both individual and cultural developmental dynamics in the theory. The reality of an adult versus that of a young child, or that of present times versus the Middle Ages express at once an overall expansion in capacity and the very different ordering dynamics that color experience at different creative stages. Creative stage—whether that in a lifetime, in the evolution of culture, or even in the creative growth of a relationship or a creative project—affect how we experience ourselves and our worlds in predictable ways.
Patterning in Space variables: Most specifically related to questions of temperament differences, Creative Systems Theory views here-and-now relationships to be creatively ordered—what it calls Patterning in Space. This pertains to parts within ourselves (for example, how our multiple intelligences interact) and to more external here-and-now relationships such as departments in a university or functions in a business (R&D is more Early-Axis, manufacturing and management or more Middle-Axis, and finance and marketing are more Late-Axis). It also pertains to human difference and provides the theoretical basis for the Creative Systems Personality Typology. Different people at the same personal and cultural stage can be seen to embody preferentially different aspects of the creative entirety. Within a given stage reality (a primary defining hue), diversity manifests as varying creative emphases (that hue with small dabs of the other colors of the spectrum added). An artist, for example, might be expected to live more in the “magical child” (Early-Axis) reality of early creative sub-stages, whereas a lawyer might live more in the “finishing and polishing” (Late-Axis) world of detail and creative completion. A person’s Primary Energetic (temperament/personality style within CSPT) is a Patterning in Space notion (set in the context of pertinent Patterning Time variables).
Poles and Aspects: Essential sub-variables within Patterning in Space and an integral part of a person’s (or later system’s) Primary Energetic. Creative dynamics organize in the language of polarity. Beyond Axial distinctions, we also want to distinguish relative balance between more Upper Pole and more Lower Pole dynamics (the degree a person views the world from “above” or “below”—for example, an executive would most likely have more upper pole and a blue-collar worker more lower pole in their personality structures). We also want to distinguish relative balance between Inner Aspect and Outer Aspect dynamics (the degree a person’s fulfillment is derived more internally or more externally—for example, a priest would be apt to have more inner aspect and a news commentator more outer aspect in their personality structures).
Capacitance: CST argues that health, because it refers to a living process, must be understood in terms larger than just the absence of symptoms or the presence of appropriate behavior. Two key additional concepts refer to the Aliveness and Capacitance of a system. Aliveness is the creative vitality of a system at a particular moment. (CST views what most enlivens as systems as what ultimately defines its experience of truth). Capacitance is the total amount of Aliveness a system is capable of embodying (as an image, the size of the “vessel” available to hold Aliveness). A system will perceive an experience as more true (more meaningful, more healthy) the greater that experience’s Aliveness—up to the limit of the system’s Capacitance. At that limit, one of three things will take place: the system will act overtly to make a boundary (to protect the “vessel” being expanded too far and harmed), it will expand its Capacitance to take in the new Aliveness (growth), or it will protect itself covertly by creating symptoms.
Symptoms: CST uses the word Symptom to describe unconscious protective responses systems employ when challenged to greater aliveness than can be managed with available Capacitance. Symptoms may function internally by blocking avenues of effect (depression and rigidity being examples) or interpersonally by diminishing the potency of the challenge (for example being combative or undermining). They may protect us by moving us above the challenge (e.g., intellectualization), dropping us below it (e.g., taking a victim posture), moving us inside it (e.g., becoming aloof), or taking us beyond it (e.g., busying oneself)—or by doing two of these simultaneously. Symptoms can be part of an ongoing way of relating to the bigness of the world (chronic splitting), or responses to specific kinds and intensities of challenge.
CST proposes that what most defines our time culturally is the need for a new maturity of human perspective. In the end, it is that greater maturity of perspective is what gives us the ability to think in terms of multiple intelligences and temperament differences.
Put these observations together and we appreciate how a creative framing of personality combines a sequence of interrelated variables:
- Where a person is developmentally in his or her major creative periodicities (lifetime most strongly, but also cultural stage and stage in other important creative processes such as profession and family)
- The aspect of formative process as a whole a person preferentially embodies as a function of his or her unique temperament. This includes Axis, Pole, and Aspect variables.
- A person’s overall Capacitance.
- The kinds of Symptoms a person will be most predisposed to given all of the above.
- A person’s capacity for culturally mature perspective (directly related to Capacitance).
The second of these variables is our primary focus on this web-site. But all are pertinent and at times important to include when describing a system in CST terms. It may be enough to note that a person’s temperament is primarily Middle-Axis. But a person who is more Middle/Outer will see the world very differently than a person who is more Middle/Inner. Differences as a function of Capacitance can be even more dramatic and often of huge consequence as can influences that come from cultural stage differences. And when our interest is collaboration in addressing critical cultural issues, the most important variable may be a person’s capacity for culturally mature perspective.