Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the Father of ‘Flow,’ Dies at 87

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian American psychologist who showed how everyone from artists to assembly-line workers can be transported to a state of focused contentment by getting caught in the “flow,” a term he coined and later popularized, died on Oct. 20 at his home in Claremont, Calif. He was 87.

His son, Chris Csikszentmihalyi, said the cause was cardiac arrest.

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi, who went by Mike and whose full name is pronounced mee-HIGH CHEEK-sent-me-HIGH-ee, was a polymath whose passions for painting, chess playing and rock climbing informed his work on subjects as diverse as the teenage brain and the psychology of interior design.

But it was his research into creativity and focus, which began while he was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, that constituted his life’s work, and that made him a public figure after the breakout success of his 1990 book, “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.”

Scroll to Top