I just finished reading “Creativity Is Collective,” by S. Alexander Haslam, Immaculada Adarves-Yorno and Tom Postmes, and enjoyed it very much. I am a partner and creative director at a Toronto-based graphic design firm and always look forward to anything you publish on the subject of creativity.

After spending many years participating in and observing the creative process, I found myself searching for explanations as to what makes for a successful and gratifying collaboration. That search led me to a close examination of curiosity and its importance in creativity. Over the past few years I've lectured to designers and students throughout North America about curiosity and written several articles on the subject.

Last year I noticed an unusual dynamic while our studio was producing “Bees,” an issue of Wayward Arts magazine. The younger designers on our team did not contribute nearly the quality of ideas and energy as our senior designers. In trying to understand why, I isolated several areas where I believe these young designers had difficulties—areas of the creative process that they will need to strengthen:

  • Have a tolerance for ambiguity.
  • Feel confident in sharing ideas, even bad ideas.
  • Heighten your sense of curiosity and discovery.
  • Know that mistakes are part of the process and that they will teach you valuable lessons.

Perhaps our experience of creating “Bees” and the intriguing issue that surfaced can provide insights for people who want to become more creative.



As one who suffered from restless genital syndrome (ReGS) for six years, I appreciate your publishing Cat Bohannon's comprehensive coverage of Sally's case in “When Arousal Is Agony.”

The symptoms described were very similar to my own, lasting for hours without respite, often leading to bouts with depression. I appreciated Bohannon's reporting on what little research has been done on the causes of this syndrome and her listing many of the treatments that are available. She accurately states that it is still not certain whether the very expensive surgically placed transmitter permanently cures people.

I have taken a different course of treatments, including unsuccessfully trying many drugs, hormones and supplements that seemed to help others. In addition, my physician tried about a dozen different homeopathic remedies with me. That seemed to make the difference, and I'm happy to say I am about 90 percent better, or 90 percent ReGS-free.

It has been a long, arduous journey, like a roller coaster ride. Because I had ReGS for so long, I often thought I might never get better. I'm very thankful today for my doctor and his persistence. I have a lot of compassion for those who struggle with it and hope they can find relief like I did.

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It was a bit startling to read the following at the start of Bohannon's article: “A woman we'll call Sally lived in a small town deep in the heart of Texas hill country.... It's mostly middle class, mostly Christian, the sort of place where you don't have to lock your doors because you already know all your nosy neighbors.”

The implication is clear: Areas where Christians live are safe. Areas with “others,” not so much. The writer may have meant to write about homogeneity, not religion, and this kind of bias is often introduced unconsciously—but this is journalism. One has to be accurate. Being “Christian,” throughout the movement's long history, has not always or universally been equated with “supernice, supercaring, always ethical, never violent.”

It's a particular shame to see this kind of bias in a magazine that reports on scientific findings. I hope future articles allow for the possibility of violence by and among people who are Christian and of peaceful relations by and among people who are not Christian.

via e-mail


I found both the answers to the questions in Ask the Brains fascinating. But in the response to “What processes in the brain allow you to remember dreams?” I was rather surprised to see the claim that if a dream ends before you wake, you will not remember it. I do not think that this claim is true for everyone. I am a chronic insomniac, and when I do sleep I have the feeling of still being partly conscious. Thus, I tend to be aware that I am asleep in my bed, dreaming. When I wake up, I have found that sometimes I not only remember the dream I have just experienced but also the one before and, on occasion, the one before that! So although “normal” sleepers may be unable to recall dreams that end before they wake up, it is possible that light sleepers or those with other sleep problems can. Such people would make an interesting population to study and may reveal some novel findings not just about sleep but about consciousness as well.

University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

So much in our biology is not random, and so it goes with our dreams. When we do remember them, there is probably a reason. The way I see it, we are often working on problems in dreams that we couldn't solve in waking life. As a clinician, I assume that when a client recalls a dream, he or she probably wanted to bring its topic into our session for discussion. As we talk, the client usually figures out what the reverie was about (that is, what problem he or she is working on).

I generally ask clients how they felt when they awoke—were they startled, depressed, fearful, quizzical? These emotional states can also provide information about the meaning of a dream.

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“Channel your younger self,” the third tip in “How to be a Better Traveler,” by Sunny Sea Gold [Head Lines], sounds like horrible advice to me. For most of us, our younger selves were fairly stupid and never thought about consequences. A good example is when my wife traveled to Italy in college and was essentially held captive by a Naples taxi driver. If you've developed instincts for potential dangers over the years, it's pretty dumb to rationalize them away by channeling your younger, dumber self.

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Having traveled extensively as a teenager, I get a laugh out of the comment from “methos1999.” I traveled the globe by hitching rides, taking trains and hiking on foot through some of the worst slums in the world. I visited countless people's homes and shared and enjoyed many a meal. Of course, I was traveling in the early 1970s, with a buddy, when flower power was the code of the young generation, but I still had my share of run-ins with seedy people and their evil doings. Somehow I survived encounters with drug addicts, pedophiles, drunk drivers, grifters, gypsies, felony criminals of every sort and even some of the meanest cops in America.

I not only survived but gained wisdom and insight that only those kinds of encounters could give me. I would do it all over again with even fewer inhibitions if I could. The worst that can happen is you can die, and that consequence is a real possibility no matter what you do in life.

“singing flea”
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