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Lecture 17

Lecture 17 - notes

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Marc A Fournier

Lecture 17 McAdams believes that this life-strrative approach offers a third tier in our understanding of persons. [ 1 tier level of personality traits psychology of the stranger; 2 tier characteristic motivational, developmental adaptations that people make as they bring their traits into the world]. To truly understand a person, you need to move to the life-story level, where everything becomes meaningful and becomes organized, and it gives us that sense of unity and purpose. Its important to distinguish agency and communion from each other. McAdams view of life-story formation is very much in line with a broad framework, first developed in the 1960s, by David Bakan (The duality of human existence). Bakan and others after him have argued that for all the varieties that make up human experience, we can distill 2 fundamental themes in everything that is essentially human: themes related to agency and themes related to communion. Agency = those things that concern the self; the formation of separations between the self and the rest of the world and the striving the self has to become increasingly expansive and increasingly elevated. Reflects itself in the ideas of dominance, social rank, power, etc. Communion = things which have their focus on others, rather than on the self, on the formation of connections rather than separations and on the striving for contact and congregation with others. These are best thought of as meta-concepts, since they cut across many, if not all, theories of personality. Life-Story Formation: - Narrative Tone infancy - Imagery & Themes childhood - Setting & Character adolescence The Tone of Infancy In the very early stages of ones life, the tone of ones life story is believed to be set. So McAdams has speculated that in these early years of life, it is the caregivers role to organize the experiences of trust vs. mistrust. Can one look to the world and expect others to be present to address the needs one has, or, on the contrary, is the world an uncertain place, where those significant figures around us cannot be relied upon for support and protection? This is a pre-linguistic attitude that the infant acquires toward the world. And it is believed that this attitude will set the tone of the life-story you will have. This tone can either be an optimistic one or a pessimistic one.
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