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Lecture 17

Thorough notes on Lecture 17

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYB30H3
Professor
Marc A Fournier

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PSYB30 PersonalityMon, March 21/2011
Lecture 17
Overview of Week 10 – Life-Story
The Role of Narrative
Tells us how Life of Pi is his favourite book of all time
He talks about how it does a good job illustrating the difference between narrative truth and
historical truth and the tension that exists between them
The story illustrates the profound role of story telling in human affairs
As people we are historians and history simultaneously
We're story-tellers and story at the same time
The book illustrates the important role that narrative has to play in weaving a coherent,
meaningful, purposeful life and the role the narrative has in psychological functioning
So for the first part of this class we talked about:
An individual's Traits (what you learn about a person when you first meet them, psychology
of the stranger)
Then went onto their Motivations (you now know the person and you're learning what drives
them)
And now we move onto the third level of understanding a person – their Life Story. We have
an understanding of the narrative by which the person (or yourself) lives their lives \
PART I: Life-Story Formation
How it is that we acquire a narrative tone, themes, characters, settings that make up a life-story
PART II: Life-Story Integration
How the features of one's Life-Story are related to their traits and their motivations
PART III: Life-Story Revision
Psycho-therapy as life-story revision
PART I:
Life-Story Formation
Infancy – Narrative Tone
Childhood – Imagery & Theme
Adolescence – Setting & Character
Dimensions of Human Existence
Of all the varieties that make up human experience we can distill two fundamental themes in everything
that is essentially human
Agency - The side of the human condition that reflects the self's efforts to expand and grow, and become
increasingly differentiated from others
Focus on the self
Formation of separations
Striving for self-expansion and self-elevation
www.notesolution.com
Communion – The strivings that connect the self to others
Focus on others
Formation of connections
Striving for contact and congregation with others
These are best thought of not as concepts, but meta-concepts
They cut across many different theoretical traditions , they're not limited to one theoretical
framework. Themes of Agency and Communion run through many, if not, all theories of
personality
The Tone of Infancy
In the earliest years of life, the tone of one's life-story is believed to be set
Early infant-caregiver attachments serve to organize our experiences of trust vs. Mistrust
McAdams has speculated that in the earliest years of life, we ask “can I look to others to
address the needs and concerns that I have?”
Will there be reliable others to turn to in times of need? Or, Is the world an uncertain place
where those significant figures in my immediate surrounding cannot be relied upon for care
and protection
As we have learned, if we find a good balance between trust and mistrust, it should produce
a strength within us which Erikson called: Hope
Erik Erikson – Hope:The enduring belief in the attainability of fervent wishes
At this stage, the infant isn't even capable of language and yet prior to the acquisition of
the words to describe the condition, there's an attitude/orientation towards the world
that's being developed
This early orientation towards the world sets the Tone to the Life-Story you will ultimate
write
The tone will either be Optimistic or Pessimistic
Optimistic stories (comedy & romance)
Comedies and romance have a common element: happy endings
Things work out in the end
Pessimistic stories (tragedy & irony)
So the tone of your story, whether it'll be a positive or negative one, is set early in life
Early Childhood Images
At this stage, children are coming in contact with the larger society (schooling).
The nursery school child is busy acquiring a stockpile of rich, emotionally laden images from
family, school, the media, etc.
Culturally grounded or sanctioned images provide raw material for later life-Story development
these images become the building blocks for later life narrative
think back to when you were 4-6 and ask yourself what were the images and themes to
which I was exposed during this time?
www.notesolution.com
We take the images we were exposed to during this point in life and we can draw on them
and make use of them as we come towards the task of fashioning our own life story
ex: creator of family guy. When forming his jokes, he makes reference to various things
he experienced in his past (ex: movies/shows). He draws on these images from his
childhood and they help shape part of who he is
Later Childhood Themes
By this time, they become good story-tellers. Children are now able to reason in story terms.
The elementary school child is able to organize human intentions into coherent stories with
beginnings, middles, & endings
They can make out violations in story grammar. Like if you tell them a story and you don't
tel it in the proper sequence (the beginning, middle and then the end), ex: middle first, then
end and then the beginning, they recognize this violation
They understand that a story begins, then some obstacles must be overcome, and that they
are either overcome successfully or not
this is key because you use this knowledge to compose your own life-story and interpret
other peoples' stories
As accounts of human intentions, stories tell what the characters are striving for
you do not have stories without characters who have recognizable human intentions
there is a deep connection in the human mind between stories and intentions. Intentions
only unfold in story form and there is no other way to convey or capture an intention
apart from through a story
this is why the TAT is a powerful tool in measuring human motivations, because
motivations are intentional characteristics and the best way to elicit the underlying
motivations that people have is to get them to tell stories in which their intentions and
motivations can unfold
Themes of separation & mastery (agency)
Themes of union & solidarity (communion)
McAdams argues that characters in all stories are striving for either something agentic,
or communal (or both)
if we look at basic story forms, we'll see characters that are striving for separation &
mastery, or union & solidarity
Adolescence & Ideological Settings
The setting of the life story is set. It is not a geographical setting, but an ideological one. By this time,
we're striving to come to terms with what our own ideological principles are
The teenager seeks an internally consistent and logical system of beliefs/values – i.e., an
ideology
The ideological setting answers the questionsWhat is true?” and “What is good?
the following are two general ideological directions that people tend to move toward
Ideology of justice (agency)
these concern belief/value systems that put a primacy on human rights and freedoms
the agentic side of human nature attempts to expand and elevate the self and it attempts
to do so in accordance with these rights and freedoms
www.notesolution.com

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Description
PSYB30 Personality Mon, March 212011 Lecture 17 Overview of Week 10 Life-Story The Role of Narrative Tells us how Life of Pi is his favourite book of all time He talks about how it does a good job illustrating the difference between narrative truth and historical truth and the tension that exists between them The story illustrates the profound role of story telling in human affairs As people we are historians and history simultaneously Were story-tellers and story at the same time The book illustrates the important role that narrative has to play in weaving a coherent, meaningful, purposeful life and the role the narrative has in psychological functioning So for the first part of this class we talked about: An individuals Traits (what you learn about a person when you first meet them, psychology of the stranger) Then went onto their Motivations (you now know the person and youre learning what drives them) And now we move onto the third level of understanding a person their Life Story. We have an understanding of the narrative by which the person (or yourself) lives their lives PART I: Life-Story Formation How it is that we acquire a narrative tone, themes, characters, settings that make up a life-story PART II: Life-Story Integration How the features of ones Life-Story are related to their traits and their motivations PART III: Life-Story Revision Psycho-therapy as life-story revision PART I: Life-Story Formation Infancy Narrative Tone Childhood Imagery & Theme Adolescence Setting & Character Dimensions of Human Existence Of all the varieties that make up human experience we can distill two fundamental themes in everything that is essentially human Agency - The side of the human condition that reflects the selfs efforts to expand and grow, and become increasingly differentiated from others Focus on the self Formation of separations Striving for self-expansion and self-elevation www.notesolution.com
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