I really like this quote: Frank Barron’s Scientific American (Sept 1958) article is quoted in Conceptual Blockbusting, A Guide To Better Ideas (3rd edition, Chapter 7, page 126):
I would propose the following statements as descriptive of creative artists, and perhaps also of creative scientists: Creative people are especially observant, and they value accurate observation (telling themselves the truth) more than other people do.
They often express part-truths, but this they do vividly; the part they express is the generally unrecognized; by displacement of accent and apparent disproportion in statement they seek to point to the unusually unobserved.
They see things as other do, but also as others do not.
They are thus independent in their cognition, and they also value clearer cognition. They will suffer great personal pain to testify correctly. They are motivated to this value and to the exercise of this talent (independent, sharp observation) both for reasons of self-preservation and in the interest of human culture and its future.
They are born with greater brain capacity; they have more ability to hold many ideas at once, and to compare more ideas with one another — hence to make a richer synthesis.
In addition to unusual endowment in terms of cognitive ability, they are by constitution more vigorous and have available to them an exceptional fund of psychic and physical energy.
Their universe is thus more complex, and in addition, they usually lead more complex lives, seeking tension in the interest of the pleasure they obtain upon its discharge.
They have more contact than most people do with the life of the unconscious, with fantasy, reverie, the world of imagination.
They have exceptionally broad and flexible awareness of themselves. The self is strongest when it can regress (admits primitive fantasies, naive ideas, tabooed impulses into consciousness and behavior), and yet return to a high degree of rationality and self-criticism. The creative person is both more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, crazier and saner, than the average person.
His intensive studies of highly creative people during the 1950s and 1960s at the Institute for Personality Assessment and Research (IPAR) at UC Berkeley made him famous. In these studies, highly creative thinkers in numerous fields including architects, research scientists, mathematicians, and such writers as Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, and Jessamyn West, all ranked by their peers for originality, were brought to IPAR for several days of rigorous interviews and comprehensive psychological testing.
Frank [Barron] once described the highly creative person as “both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive, a lot madder and a lot saner than the average person.” In their studies, he and his colleagues found that the most highly creative participants appeared highly neurotic on personality tests but also showed high levels of ego-strength that allowed them to direct their pathology into their work. They also tended to resist conformity and proved to be more willing than others to take risks. Frank believed that important
creative advances require a high endurance of disorder and a predilection for complexity, working in concert with the ability to distill order from chaos.