Liam Hudson wrote a series of books, each one moving further from his starting-point in the psychology schools at Oxford and Cambridge. His first book contains an introduction that should be absorbed by every young researcher for its scathing attack on trivial measurements, over dependence on statistics and the use of unsinkable theories. This book addressed the relationship between intelligence and creativity.
As a topic for research, creativity is a bandwagon; one which all of us sufficiently hale and hearty have leapt athletically aboard. It represents a boom in the American psychological industry only parallelled by that of programmed learning...Real creativity, excellence in the arts and sciences, has been a centre of psychologists' curiosity since their subject began. Apart from the vast increase in the scale of such research, the work in the last fifteen years does also reveal a slight shift of focus, away from the romantic, humanist figure of the artist genius towards the successful physical scientist. The causes of this shift are not fully understood. But two factors at least one can distinguish: a diffuse cultural groundswell, elevating the scientist from the status of a technician to that of a culture hero; and a more specific concern on the part of the American nation with the state of their armaments industry...The result has been the investment of previously unheard of sums of money in the quest for scientific talent.
At first it was hoped that intelligence tests would be the key to picking out creative people, but studies of large numbers of eminent men and women revealed that above a certain level of intelligence which varied between disciplines and in some fields seemed to be rather low, greater intelligence was no predictor of greater achievement. The minimum level of IQ required was about 120, in those days (the 1960s) about the average of university graduates. The problem, then, was to find why so few graduates went on to be eminent problem solvers or creative people.
The obvious response was to postulate that creativity was a factor separate from, and independent of, intelligence. Advocates of this school of thought made much use of open ended tests, hopefully called creativity tests, which demand some degree of imagination to think up the possible uses for a house brick (for example) or to make up stories to go with a picture. These tests, along with the conventional intelligence tests, permitted psychologists to identify two types - the converger (strong on IQ, weak on lateral thinking) and the diverger (not so strong on IQ but excelling on open-ended tests).
In the quest for creativity the convergers were expected to be the duds while the divergers were expected to be star performers but further research suggested that divergers were only superior in their performance on open-ended tests. In the wide world divergence, so measured, did not seem to have much to do with originality and excellence of performance. The work with convergers and divergers involved the isolation of the two types, the identification of their differences, and attempts to explain them within various kinds of motivation theory. Little or no attention was paid to all rounders who did not fit neatly into either category. Hudson wrote, "Revealingly, psychology has little to say about such monsters of psychic efficiency".
Hudson was fortunate that the British system forced a choice between arts and science early in high school and he was able to identify two kinds of mindsets - "convergers" and "divergers" which corresponded reasonably well with science and arts students. However, some surprises turned up in the research reported in his second book Frames of Mind (1968). This paid more attention to other kinds of affiliations in the mental life of young people, including male/female identification, attitudes to authority and the elements of choice or assignment that occur when young people assume their roles in life. This is an area where Charlotte Buhler carried out pioneering work in the 1920s before she was forced to move to the United States where she contributed to the development of the "third force" of humanist psychology.
Hudson made a remarkable discovery when he set up a situation where students
were invited to role play (in writing) the archetypal mad artist. Young men who had previously presented themselves as narrow-minded, somewhat prudish and intellectually inhibited "convergers" produced scripts containing almost unbelievably bizarre, flamboyant and obscene material, thereby demonstrating the power of choice or assignment of roles, almost regardless of innate tendencies.
His third book, The Cult of the Fact marked a watershed in his intellectual development. It was a book that he discovered, trying to get out, as he completed his second book after a decade or more of research. He painted a disturbing picture of the way that "railway lines" of thought were inculcated in students, along with a perverse ranking in the psychology profession whereby people with an interest in humans were at the bottom, and those at the top devoted themselves to obscure issues in experimental methodology.
His case is illustrated with remarkable, one might say eccentric, examples such as the mythological beast, the unicorn.
They lead forth a young virgin pure and chaste, to whom, when the animal sees her, he approaches, throwing himself upon her. . - Then the girl reaches forth her hand and grasps the horn on the animal's brow and at this point the huntsmen come up and take the beast.
The unicorn is introduced as an example of something which is not a hard fact of the physical world but can have symbolic significance in peoples' minds as a vehicle of erotic or religious meaning. Hudson wants to establish that a science of human behaviour which ignores the significance of myths is no science at all; consequently much 'hard' experimental psychology is a pious fraud. He develops this theme by drawing on this own experience as he worked his way out of the experimental mould towards an appreciation of expectations, meanings and self-image in human experience and motivation.
He edited a truly remarkable collection of papers titled The Ecology of Intelligence to
demonstrate how modern developments have transcended simple-minded debates about nature versus nurture. In the Introduction he noted:
In the past, the study of intelligence has been tackled in two distinct but complementary ways: one focussing on the individual, the other on his context. Faced with a gulf of this kind between forms of science, there is a temptation to pit one caricature against the other: to explain away biology in terms of social science, or vice versa. But this solution seems sensible only as long as one is diplomatically ignorant, and refuses to read the enemy's literature. A more appropriate view at least, the one followed here is to conceive biological and social science as research traditions, each with its prejudices and limitations. Both can be mined for their insights and their information.
This must be one of the most interesting collections of papers (and authors) ever collected, although two of my favourite psychologists, Karl Pribram and Donald Hebb, are absent. The cast includes Noam Chomsky on innate ideas, the great anthropologist W H R Rivers on cultural differences in perception, David McClelland on the cultural antecedents of achievement motivation and the dynamics of creative scientists, John Money (best known for his work on gender identity), Jerome Kagan on "the need for relativism" (an unhappy title for an important paper), Getzels and Jackson on family environment and cognitive style, Stanley Millgram on obedience, Hudson himself on various topics and T S Kuhn.
Subsequent books include Human Beings (1975), Bodies of Knowledge (1982), Night Life (1985), The Way Men Think (1991) and Intimate Relations (1995). Most of these were co-authored with his wife Bernadine Jacot. They address deeper psychological issues in a thoroughly heterodox manner informed as much by artistic, biographical and literary themes as by the experimental data or fieldwork that would be familiar to most psychologists.
Bodies of Knowledge argues that human beings have to contend with four levels or layers of complexity in matters of sex and gender.
Presentation of Self
Their next book, The Way Men Think: Intellect, Intimacy and the Erotic Imagination contains case studies and arguments which build on the notion of the four layers of complexity presented in the previous work. It also contains their theory of the "male wound".
"Briefly, at the very outset of life, male and female children follow the same developmental path. But early in the growth of the foetus, the male diverges physically from the pattern which, until then, both have shared. Similarly, early in childhood, the male separates psychologically [from the mother]. For the male, this splitting off creates a source of unease we call the male 'wound'. The special interest of this wound, from our own pint of view, is that it introduces a permanent element of dislocation into the lives of one sex, but not the other. Once experienced, the wound generates needs and tensions in the male mind for which there is no direct female equivalent".
The mention of the "male wound" brings to mind the almost forgotten Ian D Suttie, a heterodox theorist based in the Tavistock Clinic; a man whose insights could have changed the direction of analytical psychology (and perhaps psychology at large) if he had lived long enough to develop the implications of his first and only book The Origins of Love and Hate (published in 1935, round about the time Liam Hudson was born).
This is not the place for lengthy discussion of Suttie's theories, except to note the affinity with Hudson's program to allow more scope for the study of sentiments and feelings in psychology, the salience that he ascribed to the process of separation from the mother, and what he called the "taboo on tenderness".
Formally, the tentative theory I have formed belongs to the group of psychologies that originates from the work of Freud. It differs fundamentally from psychoanalysis in introducing the conception of an innate need-for-companionship which is the infant's only way of self-preservation. This need, giving rise to parental and fellowship 'love', I put in place of the Freudian libido, and regard it as generally independent of genital appetite -- the source of love now appeared to be the need for food, etc., and not sexual desire and sensations; and of course the original object of love (as also of reverence) now appeared to be the mother and not the father [thus] the biological need for nurture might be psychologically presented to the infant mind, not as a bundle of practical organic necessities and potential privations, but as a pleasure in responsive companionship and as a correlative discomfort in loneliness and isolation. The Freudian conception of self-expression as a 'detensioning' process or emotional evacuation now seemed to me false and in its place I imagined expression as an offering or stimulus directed to the other person, designed to elicit a response while love itself was essentially a state of active harmonious interplay. I now seemed to perceive a bias even in the analytic standpoint and a definite limitation in their method investigation and of therapy. I had arrived at the idea that tenderness itself was tabood in our culture and science tabooed more intensely even than sex and that even psych-analytic investigation and treatment was sharply limited by this bias. (from The Origins of Love and Hate).
The invitation to deliver the Tanner Lectures afforded Hudson the opportunity to survey the trajectory of his career since The Cult of the Fact and the result is extremely interesting. More recently he has speculated on the psychological importance of the buildings and the rooms within buildings which we inhabit, with a paper titled Boundaries and Conversations, at a 1997 conference on "Creating the Productive Workplace". He suggested that the built environment is not just important for the physical health of the occupants. Rather the configuration of the buildings and the spaces are important because they bear upon the occupants' psychological needs. He speculated about the resonance between the imagination and the built environment as "a parallel which allows our buildings to act as both vehicle and metaphor for our states of mind".
This relationship intrigued Leonard Woolf, who, like Hudson, was inclined to work from home. In the fourth volume of his autobiography Downhill All The Way he wrote:
The house in which I include its material and spiritual environment has an immense influence upon its in habitants. The house determines the day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute quality, colour, atmosphere, pace of one's life, it is the framework of what one does, of what one can do, and of one's relationships with people.
Hudson, like Woolf, has also embarked on the voyage of adventure into autobiography. I suspect that he would not disagree with Woolf's comment on the process.
The moment one begins to investigate the truth of the simplest facts which one has accepted as true about one's own life, for instance it is as though one has stepped off a firm narrow path into a bog or quicksand every step one takes one sinks more deeply into the bog of uncertainty. (From the first page of Downhill All the Way)
A peevish critic could say that Hudson's later work is "a bit all over the place" to which he might cheerfully reply "Of course!".