Our Conversations with Fear; A reflection on A.H. Maslow’s article ‘Emotional Blocks to Creativity’ – By Celina Silva |

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March 8 by The Running Son

Our Conversations with Fear; A reflection on A.H. Maslow’s article Emotional Blocks to Creativity

November 19, 2012

FA 101 Creative Being

November 18, 2012

For: Michael Armstrong


Our Conversations with Fear;

A reflection on A.H. Maslow’s article Emotional Blocks to Creativity

By Celina Silva 


Everything is Waiting for You.

The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

– David Whyte
–  Excerpt from Everything is Waiting for You


In A. H. Maslow’s article Emotional Blocks to Creativity he discusses the essential nature of creative people, and further, the emotional nature of people who are disconnected from their creativity. A radical absence of creativity in a person results in compulsive-obsessive disorder (Maslow, 1958, p.51), according to Maslow. In this article the reader learns that the critical essence of a healthy creative psyche is composed of a balanced relationship between the primary process and the secondary processes (Maslow, 1958, p.56); the association and control of the “childish and mature”(Maslow, 1958, p. 56) within a person.


Maslow emphasizes that in order to be a healthy creative being there needs to be a focus on mastering control over our childish and mature emotions. I found this aspect of the article insightful and relatable for my own experience with my creative self. I experience the world largely from a primary process, which is the intuitive, unconscious, and emotional way of being. I often feel an imbalance regarding my creative process. I experience a lack of command in accessing the secondary process in my day to day life. As Maslow explores “healthy creative people are able to be like that (primary) when they want to be”(Maslow, 1958, p. 56) . In some ways I can relate to people who function excessively from a secondary process “in which (they) are logical, sensible, and realistic”(Maslow, 1958, p. 52), because they too experience a disconnection from a necessary element of themselves. The relationship between the primary process and the secondary, a “healthy fantasy and a healthy rationality”, are co -dependent and “need each other’s help in order to fuse into a true integration”(Maslow, 1958, p. 54).


“I want to know

if you know

how to melt into that fierce heat of living

falling toward

the center of your longing.”

– David Whyte
from Fire in the Earth


I am especially interested in Maslow’s discussion on the fear of the “deeper self”(Maslow, 1958, p.51); the deeper self being our creative, poetic, playful, spontaneous, childlike(Maslow, 1958, pp.51,52) soul. David Whyte explores this topic of the fear of the  deeper self in his poem above. He asks the reader if we dare to “surrender to the centre of our longing”(Whyte)?  I interpret this poem as a call to touch that core life source energy – the creative self. Much if not all of my creativity comes from contact with or a yearning for contact with god (consciousness, mother nature; whatever we choose to call it), as does all human beings art I believe. Contacting the “deeper self” is choosing to start a conversation with that mysterious and often gaping part of ourselves that longs, yearns, and suffers. Doesn’t most art come from suffering? Why are we afraid of creativity? Why is “softness, fantasy, emotion,” and “childishness”(Maslow, 1958, p.52) met with such resistance? Because communicating with the deeper self is vulnerable, dangerous, and scary. As poet Rainer Maria Rilke writes: “that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it”( Rilke,1934 (as cited by Goodreads, 2012, p.3)


The relationship between men and women is explored under the context of the relationship between the primary and secondary process, in Maslow’s article.  I was inspired by his correlation between a healthy relationship between a man and a women being parallel to a healthy balance between the primary and secondary processes. Primary and secondary process can be frame worked under the feminine and masculine; the feminine nature being commonly of a primary psyche, and masculine of a secondary psyche (although I believe there are exceptions to this observation)(Maslow, 1958, p. 54). Within ourselves we need both masculine and feminine, and we require this within relationship with one another, because this fuses into a true, healthy, integration (Maslow, 1958, p. 54). I wonder if an imbalance of these energies within ourselves can cause us to unconsciously attract or seek out the masculine(or feminine) energy in another person? Maslow further explores this by highlighting that  “dynamic psychologists are apt to think that much of the relationships of men to woman is determined by the fact that women will remind men of their own unconscious, that is of their own femaleness, their own softness, their own tenderness, and so on (Maslow, 1958, p.54). As well, this calls attention of the importance for men to embrace the feminine in women; “throughout history…men have been afraid of women and have therefore dominated them”( Maslow, 1958, p. 54). Maslow brings up an enlightening point; he believes that many men have suppressed women because of fear of their own primary process being awakened; fear of creativity (Maslow, 1958, p. 54). E.E Cummings captures this viewpoint beautifully in the poem below.

“who pays any attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you”

― E.E. Cummings


What does it mean to be wholly kissed, or to be wholly alive? I feel it means to loosen the secondary nature of yourself, to let go of attachment to the masculine energy, to the syntax of life.

“If you are a good enough man that is the kind of women you will get and that is the kind of women you will deserve”( Maslow, 1958, p. 54).

Speaking from a women’s perspective, I can say that I appreciate this belief by Maslow. I would like to extend this thought further – perhaps, if you are brave enough to play in life you will attract the life you yearn for.

[ Repost from: http://thewildflowerfields.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/our-conversations-with-fear-a-reflection-on-a-h-maslows-article-emotional-blocks-to-creativity/ ]



Maslow, A. H. Emotional Blocks to Creativity, Journal journal of Individual Psychology, 14;1 (1958: May) p.51.

Rillke, R. M. “Rainer Maria Rilke Quotes.” Rainer Maria Rilke Quotes (Author of Letters to a Young Poet) (page 3 of 8). Goodreads, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/7906.Rainer_Maria_Rilke?page=3>.

Whyte, D. Everything Is Waiting for You. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://www.davidwhyte.com/english_everything.html>.

Whyte, D. Self Portrait. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://www.davidwhyte.com/english_self.html>.

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RunningSon aka Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013 | This site is dedicated with the deepest gratitude to Dr. Cláudio Naranjo, whose writings gave me life.

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