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A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF "CREATIVE IMAGINATION" IN NORMAL PEOPLE AND IN MENTALLY DISEASED
Helge Lundholm
Am J Psychiatry 1924;80:739-756.
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Psychological Laboratory of McLean Hospital, Waverley, Mass.

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Abstract

Subjects.—Fifty normal people, 11 manic-depressive manics, 12 manic-depressive depressions, nine cases of dementia præcox and three psychopaths.Procedure of the Experiment.—A perfectly meaningless picture was shown to the subjects for two minutes. Previously an instruction was given, suggesting strongly to the subjects, that the picture is a representation of meaningful objects and urging them to report everything they see. The report was analyzed with emphasis on the relation between significant and non-significant statements. By the former are meant statements picking out parts of the picture as meaningful objects.Results.—The study of the normal group showed certain tendencies of sex differences. The 25 men gave together a larger number of significant statements than the 25 women, and thus seemed to have the capacity of "creating images" more strongly developed. Both among men and women there was a type of individual who talked a large number of words but few significant ones. To this "normal talkative type" belonged twice as many women as men. The attitude of the male subjects to the test was set more rapidly than the attitude of the female.The manic-depressive manics gave a considerably larger number of significant statements than the normal, thus showing an increased tendency of "creating images." The recovering manics approached the "normal talkative type" in their productions.The study of the manic-depressive depressions distinguishes the retarded depressions from the non-retarded ones. The former gave a much less number of both significant and non-significant words than the normal, thus showing a decreased tendency of "creating images." The non-retarded depressions gave also a small number of significant words but quite a large number of insignificant ones. Consequently they approach in their performance the "normal talkative type," just as the recovering manics do.The attitude of the depressed subject was always easily set and about invariably the one of "I can not." This is the phrase with which they mostly begin their productions and we consider their attitude as a beautiful expression of the "feeling of inadequacy" which is a characteristic symptom of melancholics. The non-retarded depressions showed a stronger tendency of perseveration in their productions than any of the other groups.The test result from dementia præcox cases and psychopaths shows a variability of features which makes impossible any general conclusions.

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