The Early Lives of Highly Creative Persons: The Influence of the Complex Family



Over the last 50 years, theoretical, speculative, and empirical scholarship has examined the influence of early family context on subsequent accomplishments in children of high ability. Building upon 40 years of creativity literature focusing on optimal experience, this exploratory study applied the Complex Family Framework in a systematic analysis of creative adults’ recollections of their early family lives. The study identifies evidence of the interplay of integration and Differentiation, a catalyst for individual optimal experience, in the families of nine creative exemplars who have made significant contributions to contemporary culture. Five participants represented the Arts and Humanities, three the Social Sciences, and one the Physical Sciences. The study demonstrates the utility of the Complex Family Framework in understanding families’ contributions to children’s later creative achievement.


Optimal Experience Family Context Psychological Safety Difficult Circumstance Complex Family 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Taylor & Francis GroupBoca RatonUSA
  2. 2.University of Northern IowaCedar FallsUSA
  3. 3.Claremont Graduate UniversityClaremontUSA

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