A synopsis of Therivel's GAM/DP
Theory of Personality and Creativity.
The GAM/DP Theory of Personality
Volumes 1 - 6
GAM/DP theory deals with personality and creativity at both the individual
and societal levels: what makes an individual creative, and what makes a society
G stands for genetic endowment
(nature); A for assistances, M for misfortunes, DP
for division of power (UP for unity of power).
misfortunes of youth (e.g., early parental death, physical infirmity) reduce the
acquisition of normal scripts from society. (Scripts are habits, routines,
common ways of thinking, taboos, schemes, traditions, cognitive-structural units,
This condition, when backed
by a good genetic endowment (e.g., for intelligence, temperaments, specific talents),
and by valid assistances (e.g., from parents, schools, books), stimulates the
build-up of new personal scripts which will then conflict with those of society
in a life-long war of the scripts: the tension and material for creativity.
The final potential for creativity can be expressed by the formula GxAxM.
Different kinds of misfortune have a different
impact on personality and creativity; so much so that eminent creators can be
profitably studied in comparison with others affected by the same misfortune of
youth. Accordingly the theory has studied fourteen challenged families,
one for each of fourteen major misfortunes (e.g., early parental death, physical
infirmity, parental failure of character, parental domination, suffered lack of
The second part of the theory
says that long periods of division of power, DP (e.g. when power is fought
or grudgingly shared between emperor and pope, between state and church; when
two or more major ideologies fight each other) give origin to the visitor personality;
and that, instead, long periods of unity of power, UP (one single ruler
or dominating hierarchy, one single dominating ideology) give origin to the insular
DP fosters critical
thinking. People begin to mistrust the power holder. They have the courage to
speak their mind, to be creative on matters that are not those wanted by the power
holder. Visitors go places and take risks (they can do so: in case of trouble
with power A, they can ask the help of power B which will give it gladly). Automatically
the visitors take initiatives for the common good because they do not trust
the supremo who is more interested in his personal power and glory. Soon
the visitors are firm believers in the Law of Power of Lord Acton: "Power
tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Visitors
therefore are highly creative, and so are the DP places, which nurtured
them (e.g. the Florence of Dante and Boccaccio, Leonardo and Michelangelo).
civilization was highly creative at first, under a fair measure of DP, then declined
when the UP took control, and most people became insulars.
the end individual personality and creativity potential can be expressed by the
formula GxAxMxDP, in which DP has a positive impact already on assistances
and misfortunes of youth; later on all aspects of adult life.
the individual level, the GAM theory studied such eminent creators like Mozart
(e.g. in the chapter "Why Mozart and not Salieri"), Bach, Wagner; Cervantes,
Goethe, Tolstoy; Newton, Darwin, Einstein; Toulouse-Lautrec, Klee, Picasso. At
the societal level the DP theory studied a long string of civilizations and countries
in chapters like "The DP origins of the United States", "The DP
origins of the Scottish Enlightenment", "The origins, decline and fall
of the Egyptian civilization", "Did the mandarins kill the Chinese civilization?",
"The low creativity and high unity of power of the Byzantine civilization".
The theory and its evidence are presented--by the
author, William A. Therivel--in six volumes published by Kirk House (2001 to
2008) entitled The GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity (vols 1