The GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity
by: William A. Therivel, PhD
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-Gifted and Talented
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-Western Medicine's Origins
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William A. Therivel
William Therivel
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-High Creativity Unmasked
-Studying Power
-Studying National Characters
-Studying National Creativity
Biography of Author

Hawthorne's radiologist-universalist-miner personality is discussed in
Therivel's GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity.

Nathaniel Hawthorne: GAM Radiologist-Universalist-Miner

The above is the title of chapter 2 of volume 4 of volume 4 of William A. Therivel's The GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity (G stands for genetic endowment, A for assistances of youth, M for misfortunes of youth, DP for division of power, UP for unity of power). For an introduction to the GAM part of the theory click "Introduction to GAM"; for an introduction to the DP part click on "Introduction to DP".
In this website, the reader is also offered a shortcut: The GAM/DP Synopsis and an expanded version, The GAM/DP Summary of volumes 1 through 4.

Hereafter, I report a few pages from this chapter.


     In Nathaniel Hawthorne's story "The Minister's Black Veil", a New England clergyman emerges one day with his face swathed in black crepe. Ignoring the disquiet of his parishioners, the unrelenting reverend wears the ghastly cloth to his final hour--at which point he cries out: "Lo! on every visage a black veil!" The mask has served not as a concealment but as a mirror. Through a lifetime's correspondence, Hawthorne unveiled no dark, private wellspring for his sombre, soul-probing writings. As he wrote to his soon-to-be wife, Sophia Peabody, in 1842, "When people think that I am pouring myself out in a tale or essay, I am merely telling what is common to human nature, not what is peculiar to myself. I sympathize with them--not they with me." (Tursi, 2002, p. 8)
     Hawthorne wrote of what he thought was common to human nature; but he did it as a somber, soul-probing radiologist-universalist-miner, with the richness and complexity which derives from his belonging to no less than three GAM personality families (for causes and results): radiologists, universalists, and miners1, in something like a Venn's diagram in which three circles (one for each of these personality families) partially overlap, thus dividing the personality plane in eight regions. Thus, some of Hawthorne's works are dedicated (the region outside of the three circles), some are predominantly radiological (inside only that circle, but at various radiological intensities), some are radiological-universalist (where the radiologist and universalist circles overlap), and some works are radiological-universalist-miner (the area in which the three circles overlap).
     This description may seem unnecessarily complicated, but it can provide a new understanding of Hawthorne's works, and relate his personality to that of others whose youth, personality and works, were similarly affected. By focusing, for instance, on that part of the Venn diagram in which the ring of the radiologists overlaps that of the universalists we can compare (for causes and results) Hawthorne to Nietzsche. Both suffered of early paternal death Category A: at age 5 for Nietzsche, and age 4 for Hawthorne; and of physical infirmity which began at the age of 9 for both. Similarly, by focusing on the miner ring, we can compare some of Hawthorne's works to those by the miners Baudelaire and Rimbaud.

     Moving to that important M of his GxAxM, Hawthorne suffered in his youth of three major misfortunes: death of father Categories A and B2 when he was four, then severe/insulting physical infirmity, from about age 9 to 10 (or 9 to 12, depending on the sources and their recollections many years after the facts). Accordingly, I will start with Hawthorne's radiological circle, move to his universalist circle, and then to their overlap. I take this approach because, of all his personality/creativity circles, the radiologist has been the least studied, and yet it is capable of providing important additional understanding on both the creator and his acts of creation.

     Also, what I report hereafter on Hawthorne the radiologist provides evidence for the validity of the GAM theory of personality and creativity. As in the case of Nietzsche (see volume 2), when I read of Hawthorne's radiological misfortune of youth (discussed in the next section), I expected to find numerous and important radiological texts in his works, and I found them, especially in his master work, The Scarlet Letter.
     Like Nietzsche (whose eye problems grew slowly, but never stopped), Hawthorne became fascinated (even obsessed) with diseases and cures, with patients and doctors. Then, both Nietzsche and Hawthorne (as radiologist-universalist because of the two major misfortunes of youth: physical infirmity and early death of the father), felt they had discovered a cure to what they saw as the fundamental psychological-physical disease afflicting humanity.
     In chapter 9 of volume 2, I spoke of Doctor Nietzsche and his cure, in this chapter I will also refer to Doctor Hawthorne and his cure. On the other hand, the Nietzsche-Hawthorne comparison should not be pushed too far, because in Hawthorne there was also a major miner component (from paternal death category B) which is not present in Nietzsche, while the radiologist in Hawthorne is not as powerful as in Nietzsche.

Radiological Causes

On November 10, 1813, Nathaniel was hit on the leg while playing "bat and ball." According to [his sister] Elizabeth, writing decades later, "no injury was discernible," yet he was incapacitated for two or three years. Apparently he refused to walk and favored the injured leg for months following the accident. Elizabeth, not the mother, wrote urgently to Uncle Robert: "I don't know Nathaniel's foot will ever get well if you don't come home. He wont walk on it & the Doctor says he must; so do come soon." Perhaps after direct orders from Uncle Robert, who apparently was the only one who could manage the youth, Nathaniel began to walk with the aid of crutches... The patient remained stubborn and uncooperative, and recovery was slow. Many doctors from Salem and elsewhere, including his future father-in-law, Dr. Nathaniel Peabody, examined and prescribed but produced neither cure nor diagnosis of the injury. Soon one leg was growing more slowly than the other. Only by January 20, 1815, was his mother finally confident. "Nathaniel has," she wrote, "entirely recovered the use of his foot, and walks as well as he did before he was lame, his joy was great, when he found he could walk without his crutches." She attributed the cure to a Dr. Smith of Hanover, who advised pouring cold water on his foot every morning.3 The disability appears to have had psychological as well as physical origins. It occurred within a year of two traumatic deaths, which reactivated Nathaniel's memory of the death of his father four years earlier. Nathaniel was moved by the almost uncontrollable grief of his Grandmother Manning, who had lost a husband and son in the same year. (Miller, 1991, pp. 47-48, my italics)

Worth mentioning is also the following from a letter that Hawthorne's sister Elizabeth wrote to her niece Una :

Your father was lame a long time from an injury received while playing bat-and-ball. His foot pined away, and was considerably smaller than the other. He had every doctor that could be heard of; among the rest, your grandfather Peabody. But it was 'Dr. Time' who at last cured him. I remember he used to lie upon the floor and read, and that he went upon two crutches. Everybody thought that, if he lived, he would be always lame. (Hawthorne, Julian, 1884/1968, p. 100)

     Clearly, the first of those who "thought that, if he lived, he would be always lame" was Nathaniel Hawthorne himself.4 This thought, coupled with those on the death of his father and other relatives--and with the many failed attempts for a cure which showed how little the doctors knew--led him to have strong radiological leanings. Burning questions on the meaning of life--stimulated by the early death of his father--were asked together with question on the meaning of health and sickness. These questions raised by the young universalist became, at the same time, also radiological questions.
     While universalists can, on an intellectual basis, forget the body as unimportant, and concentrate their thoughts on the mind and its involvement with truth, justice, happiness and love, universalist-radiologists cannot: they cannot forget their sick body, the sick body of others, the physicians who were unable to help them. Then, when the two misfortunes (early parental death, and humiliating physical infirmity) act in parallel, the infirmities of the body will be linked to the infirmities of the mind.
     Hawthorne, the universalist, discovered what other great minds of the past had found--that pride is the gravest of all sins. Then, radiologist as he was, Hawthorne linked pride to bodily sickness.

1The three GAM personality families to which Hawthorne belongs in part are described in chapter 3 of volume 1 as:

  • Radiologists. Cause: Painful or humiliating physical infirmities. Result: Keen eye for anything that is sick in people and society; may have some religious or mystical interests, but permeated with pessimism.
  • Universalists. Cause: Early parental death or much parental absence, coupled with love and good assistance from the remaining parent or relatives; good assistance from school and stable socio-economic status. Result: Fond of moral concepts that are logical and prescriptive; have penchant for vast, non relativistic, theoretical thinking; fond of higher/intellectual pursuits such as religion, philosophy, mathematics, science and law.
  • Miners. Cause: Lack of love (e.g., lack of love from remaining parent after one died, divorced or was pushed aside). Result: Skeptics with a tendency to pessimism and satire; sharp eye for hypocrisy. (Many great poets are miners).

2Parental death category A is the one which causes a parental vacuum, but with no additional misfortunes. Parental death category B is the one followed by problems (mainly lack of love for the children) when, for instance the remaining parent soon remarries (not to provide a substitute father or mother for the children) or has an affair; or is overwhelmed by his/her difficulties and unable to give love and attention to the children. Parental death category C is the one which starts a painful socioeconomic downfall of the family. Parental death category A is the origin of the universalists, category B the origin of many miners, while parental death category C is a the source of many critical jesters.

3Specifically, "The prescribed consisted of pouring showers of cold water from a window in the second story upon the lame foot, extended below.... Later he was able to walk with the aid of crutches. Not until after some three years, when he was twelve, was the lameness completely overcome" (Stewart, 1948, p. 4). If so, the cure may have seemed--especially to the patient--more quackery than science, and the infirmity may have lasted longer than mentioned by others: three years instead of a little more than one year.

4It is true that the problem with his foot lasted only little more than one year (or up to three years), but Nathaniel did not known if and when he would be healed. The reader will remember the strong impact on Charles Dickens of those five months in the blacking warehouse, discussed in chapter 1 of volume 3. Dickens at that time was 12, close in age to Hawthorne who became infirm at the age of 9. In both cases, the terrible fear was that it would last forever. Dickens never forgot, and certainly neither did Hawthorne. It shaped their personality and creativity.

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