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At the first stages, all the participants in Guilford’s original study censored their own thinking by limiting the possible solutions to those within the imaginary square (even those who eventually solved the puzzle).
Even though they weren’t instructed to restrain themselves from considering such a solution, they were unable to “see” the white space beyond the square’s boundaries.
Trump provides daily ammunition to anyone who wants to argue that was a mistake.
My own view is that his antics are more hilarious than terrifying and have the salutary effect of undermining respect for the presidency, which may lead to long-overdue limits on its powers.
Why, then, is Frances so dismissive of the idea that Trump is "mentally ill"?
In recent years, Frances has expressed qualms about the APA's quest to classify every unlovely feature of human nature as a mental illness.
There seemed to be no end to the insights that could be offered under the banner of thinking outside the box.
The boundaries of psychiatry are easily expanded because no bright line separates patients who are simply worried from those with mild mental disorders." Or as Frances put it more pithily in a 2011 interview with Gary Greenberg, "There is no definition of a mental disorder. I mean, you just can't define it." In a 2012 debate (in which I also participated), Frances declared that "mental disorders most certainly are not diseases." If so, you may wonder, why are they treated by medical doctors?
And is Frances now saying that Trump does not qualify for a debate, that he is drawing a distinction between a diagnosis like "narcissistic personality disorder," which is little more than a list of unappealing characteristics that often go together, and a "serious mental illness" like schizophrenia, which may actually be several different things and may or may not involve an identifiable neurological defect but, in Frances's view, entails a lack of self-control that can justify coercive intervention.
Only 20 percent managed to break out of the illusory confinement and continue their lines in the white space surrounding the dots.
The symmetry, the beautiful simplicity of the solution, and the fact that 80 percent of the participants were effectively blinded by the boundaries of the square led Guilford and the readers of his books to leap to the sweeping conclusion that creativity requires you to go outside the box.