The Creative Systems Personality Typology can, on first encounter, seem quite challenging. Therefore, it’s important in getting started to have a solid sense of what it has to offer and why. Creative Systems concepts are not particularly complex, but they do demand that we think in new ways.
The Creative Systems Personality Typology takes us several steps beyond other personality frameworks. A number of characteristics of CSPT reflected in previous observations combine to make this so:
It is conceptualized in terms of the whole of human “intelligence.”
Most psychological systems describe personality primarily in cognitive or behavioral terms. For many personality styles—for example, styles for which bodily intelligence or imaginal intelligence is primary—this misses what most defines a person’s experience.
It address differences in both style and capability and does this in an integral way.
Models of personality difference tend to be one of two types. “Pathology models” focus on capability, or lack thereof. They view difference as disease—deviation from a healthy norm. “Educational models” focus on style. They view difference from an egalitarian—”different strokes for different folks” perspective. Each view provides a limited half-picture. Creative Systems ideas offer a larger, more dynamic approach to understanding.
It is comprehensive, both across personality styles and through the layerings of experience.
Most frameworks that address psychological dynamics in any depth describe only a few kinds of personality patterns with any adequacy (generally those most similar to the system’s originator). To think comprehensively one must draw on an array of often contradictory theories. Creative Systems ideas embrace a broader diversity than other psychological models.
Educational approaches designed to distinguish “learning styles” are generally quite comprehensive across styles but lack depth. Their concern is how different people learn. Creative Systems ideas are concerned with multiple levels of human experience and interaction: how people find meaning, how they organize experience in their bodies, the kinds of symbols and metaphors likely to be found in a person’s dreams and creative expression, how people approach the forming of relationships, etc.
It is dynamically based — framed in terms of underlying core processes.
Psychological systems that are at all comprehensive tend to be empirical — “crazy quilt” collections of syndromes (eg. DSM)—or largely descriptive (thinking vs feeling, etc.) Learning style approaches are again largely descriptive. Creative Systems personality types define the fundamental processes by which a person orders experience.
Because a Creative Systems approach is dynamically based, the system itself confers valuable information (eg. what might be most helpful in a person’s growth, how a person might be expected to react if stressed beyond his or her capacity, how that person would tend to respond to people of another personality style or cultural group, etc.).
It is part of a larger framework of ideas about how human experience as a whole is patterned.
Thus it can address questions like how a particular personality style would be expected to look different at a different stage in an individual’s life, how personality style dynamics might vary within different cultural contexts, how gender and personality style differences interplay in the workings of relationships, and the unique challenges and contributions we would expect to see for each personality style in these times of dramatic cultural change.
It ties directly to the kinds of questions our human future now presents.
CST describes how the general kind of self-awareness the CSPT reflects (what it calls an Integrative Meta-perspective) will be increasingly required for a deep sense of identity and purpose. It also describes how the broader systemic picture made possible from such perspective — and supported by collaboration between people with different temperaments — will be essential to addressing most any of the key challenges before us as a species.