Emotional Creativity: Toward “Spiritualizing the Passions”

James R. Averill

in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology

Second edition

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780195187243
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
 Emotional Creativity: Toward “Spiritualizing the Passions”

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Emotional states are typically viewed negatively: Our fears, angers, and sorrows seem to outweigh our joys and pleasures. Yet, it is hard to imagine life without ostensibly negative emotions. The solution, Nietzsche suggested, is to spiritualize the passions, the negative as well as the positive. And what might that entail? Whatever else, spiritualizing the passions requires creativity. In this chapter, we explore how standard criteria for creativity (novelty, effectiveness, and authenticity) apply to emotional as well as to intellectual and artistic responses. In a similar vein, we show how characteristics commonly associated with spiritual experiences (meaning, vitality, and connectedness) apply to emotionally creative responses. Finally, data are presented that relate individual differences in emotional creativity to a spiritualization of the passions, at the high end of the creativity continuum; and to its opposite, a despiritualization of the passions (neurosis), at the low end.

Keywords: alexithymia; creativity; emotion; neurosis spirituality

Article.  6145 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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