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Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention [Paperback]

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 9 1997
Creativity is about capturing those moments that make life worth living. The author's objective is to offer an understanding of what leads to these moments, be it the excitement of the artist at the easel or the scientist in the lab, so that knowledge can be used to enrich people's lives. Drawing on 100 interviews with exceptional people, from biologists and physicists to politicians and business leaders, poets and artists, as well as his 30 years of research on the subject, Csikszentmihalyi uses his famous theory to explore the creative process. He discusses such ideas as why creative individuals are often seen as selfish and arrogant, and why the tortured genius is largely a myth. Most important, he clearly explains why creativity needs to be cultivated and is necessary for the future of our country, if not the world.

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From Publishers Weekly

Based on interviews with 91 internationally recognized creative people-among them Nobel physicist John Bardeen, arts administrator-performer Kitty Carlisle Hart, writer Denise Levertov, jazz musician Oscar Peterson, electronics executive Robert Galvin-this book offers a highly readable anatomy of creativity. As Csikzentmihalyi (Flow) argues, creativity requires not only unusual individuals, but a culture and field of experts that can foster and validate such work. Most creative people, the author suggests, have dialectic personalities: smart yet naive, both extroverted and introverted, etc. Expanding on his previous book, Csikszentmihalyi suggests that complex and challenging work exemplifies fully engaged "flow." Synthesizing study results, he reports that none of the interviewees was popular during adolescence; while they were not necessarily more brilliant than their college peers, they displayed more "concentrated attention." Later, they kept a consistent focus on future work. The author reminds us that while individuals can make their own opportunities, a supportive society offering resources and rewards can foster creativity. His advice may sound like homilies-"Try to be surprised by something every day"-but is often worthy.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Bringing together 30 years of research, Csikszentmihalyi (psychology, Univ. of Chicago) describes this book as "an effort to make more understandable the mysterious process by which men and women come up with new ideas and new things." Utilizing the interviews garnered from 91 respondents (ranging from philosopher Mortimer Adler to biologist Edward O. Wilson to politician Eugene McCarthy), the author of the best-selling Flow (LJ 3/15/90) demonstrates the processes that these acknowledged creative thinkers and doers go through and the characteristics that make them stand out. He deals with what makes them and others like them "creative"?which he defines as "a process by which a symbolic domain in the culture is changed"?and how the conduct of their professional and personal lives illustrates these traits. Csikszentmihalyi also deals with creativity and aging and ways to enhance one's own personal creativity. Although the benefits of this study to scholars are obvious, this thought-provoking mixture of the scholarly and colloquial will enlighten inquisitive general readers, too. A welcome addition to both academic and public libraries.?David M. Turkalo, Suffolk Univ. Law Sch. Lib., Boston
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demystifies Creativity, Humans beware... Feb. 11 2004
By C2sRUX
Format:Paperback
Dostoevsky said, man needs "Mystery, Miracle, and Authority." This book demystifies the concept of creativity.
Humans want to put labels on people who put out the best ideas, but, what these people do differently than other people can mostly be attributed to habit.
Based off of the universally accepted Hierarchy of Needs by Maslow the author says in order to get to the highest level (self-actualization) where real creativity takes place it is important to not have your limited attention-span concerned with other things.
Here's a brief but effective example:
You're looking for your keys. You're looking for your keys anywhere you can POSSIBLY imagine. Underneath the cushions, in your jean pockets, in drawers, EVERYWHERE, you CAN'T find them and all you can think about is finding them. Bingo. The author argues that this type of psychic thievery is what prevents us from being creative. Since we need to take care of a baser need, we have no time to find ways to solve more enhanced problems.
This book, in the author's opinion, should be taken as a sequal to the "cult" hit FLOW. Unforunately FLOW I think became too much of a hit to be taken as seriously as it should have been. Although a chapter is devoted to FLOW and the concepts, it is necessary to know the nature of work before advancing into a scheduled routine. I recommend reading FLOW before tackling this work.
I must emphasize just how amazing Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is. He will truly be regarded as one of the greatest minds of this time and most certainly the greatest psychologist of the time. His profound knowledge in so many areas is just incredible as well as backing up everything he says with examples AND action.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books Aug. 30 2012
Format:Paperback
This book is one of the top 10 books I recommend, year in and year out, to students, writers, fellow scholars, performers, business innovators, pastors, musicians--anyone who is serious about being creative. I have returned to it frequently for inspiration, new ideas, and perhaps especially for PERMISSION to be odd, to live life differently in order to make the most of what gifts I have. For anyone undertaking serious vocational discernment, and especially along unusual paths in which it is largely up to you what projects you'll take on and how you'll handle them--this is a book that coruscates with suggestive and motivating ideas.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Demystifying Creativity May 7 2003
Format:Paperback
AN INTERESTING, IMPORTANT SUBJECT
When you think about it, creativity is a key driver for personal fulfillment and world events- yet most people's understanding consists merely of stereotypes, assumptions, and clichés. There is a lot to know about creativity: what it is (and how it differs from talent and brilliance), conditions that encourage its emergence, creative people's complex personality traits, and what a creative experience looks and feels like. I would not rate 'Creativity' as high as Csikszentmihalyi's 'Flow'- which is an even more important concept to understand- yet it is certainly an informative, well-written, and recommended book.
BOOK IN A NUTSHELL
Research in psychology has traditionally learned about healthy individuals by focusing on pathological cases; this study examines the other end of the continuum- looking at extraordinary people to find out what might be missing from our lives. Trends in the personal histories and habits are taken from interviews with 91 leading contributors (Noble Prize winners, world renown artists, etc.) who have created or dominated their fields. Mainstream creative people (e.g. most creative person in an office or community) and uncreative people are not really discussed in the book- although the insights gained from the interviews may be applicable. Part 3 was not as strong as the rest of the book: the in-depth illustrations of the creative process were somewhat redundant, and some sections (Ch. 12 & 13) seemed to drift into assumptions of political philosophies.
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Format:Paperback
A few caveats to those who are generally interested in creativity studies: Csikszentmihalyi's analysis and discussion of creativity does not directly relate to those who are personally creative. People who enjoy engaging in creative activities are not demoted, in his terms, but are simply not a part of the study. It is unfortunate that his language makes it seem this way; he distinguishes between the two by saying that Creativity has the power to shape a domain or the world, while creativity applies to those who enjoy coming up with new recipes, who are engaged in research that may not change a domain, but may "tweak" it, etc.
What he is trying to discover are the underlying principles and traits of creativity in those whose work has made a significant change. Think Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mark Strand: people who are either widely known for their influence, or who have been influential within their area or domain.
This book provides an interesting view into the minds and work habits of Creative individuals, and concludes by offering general advice to those who wish to make their own lives and work more creative. It is a useful book, but one which requires a great deal of supplemental reading, in order to truly engage in creativity studies.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars great…then peters bout
Brilliant premise and idea. Starts off well and gets into very useful and thought provoking fields…then seems to run out of clarity and structure and becomes lost in its own... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Johannes Wessels
4.0 out of 5 stars Enhancing Creativity by Learning About it
Csikszentmihalyi is in the "flow" in writing this book on creativity as he elucidates his subject in an inspirational way. Read more
Published on June 7 2003 by Dr. W. G. Covington, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars CREATIVITY -- Read 7 or more
Creativity is what we need more of in the 21st Century. It is hard to break out of the rut of habitual, conventional thinking. Read more
Published on Dec 14 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars CREATIVITY -- Read 7 or more
Creativity is what we need more of in the 21st Century. It is hard to break out of the rut of habitual, conventional thinking. Read more
Published on Dec 14 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars "Creativity" was an important resource for understanding.
"Creativity" provided an outstanding analysis of how Creativity occurs, and how creative individuals have influenced their respective fields and domains of knowledge and... Read more
Published on March 29 2001 by Arete
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fabulous!
An absolutely incredible book! Mr. Mihaly has compiled an amazing work on creativity, profiles of creative people, how creativity comes about (or doesn't) in certain people or... Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2001 by Adam F. Jewell
4.0 out of 5 stars an easy book to be comfortable reading
On the way out the door one morning a couple of years ago on my way to substitute teach, I grabbed this book from the shelf and stuck it in my bookbag, knowing that there would... Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2000 by "gkathryn"
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a pretty thorough coverage on that topic
Found this book very useful and ordering another copy for my daughter who is in architecture. As for me, I am a computer science professor. Read more
Published on July 19 1998
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