Chapter 10 Notes

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7 Apr 2011
Chapter Ten
-life stories are grounded in reality, but none the less imaginative and creative productions
that each of us constructs and reconstructs as we move through our adult years
-we make a life by making a story, and the stories we make become parts of who we are
-level 1: traits
-level 2: characteristic adaptations
-level 3: life stories
The Meaning of Stories
The Narrating Mind
-storytelling is a fundamental way of expressing ourselves and our worlds to others
-the truth of a good story
-Damasio says that human consciousness is a matter of mentally taking on the position of a
-Jerome Bruner suggests that humans evolved to interpret personal experience in terms of
stories; that they understand that world in two different ways:
-paradigmatic mode of thought: we seek to comprehend our experience in terms of tightly
reasoned analyses, logical proof, and empirical observation; logical, causal reasoning;
scientists, logicians
-narrative mode of thought: in stories, events are explained in terms of human actors
striving to do things over time
-masters of the paradigmatic mode try to say no more than they mean; do not encourage
differences or opinion; generally doesnt make much sense of human goals, desire, and
social conduct
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Healing and Integration
-it has been suggested that integration and healing are the two primary psychological
functions of stories or story telling
-Bettelheim believed that childrens stories helped them work through internal conflicts
and crises
-fairy tales help the child face the world with confidence; bad people get punished in the end
-writing or performing a story can be healing and an experience of growth
-life story telling can have positive effects on coping and mental health
-the narrative act of translating personal trauma into words seems to have long term health
benefits; 98% of students said they would write again
-telling the full story, both facts and feelings, helps the most in healing
-disclosure of traumatic events improves health because when you keep a story inside you,
it physiologically affects you negatively (increased heart rate, blood pressure, etc) and when
you let it out you release all of these symptoms
-Pennebaker suggests two important factors about why disclosure helps: 1) the degree of
negative emotion expressed and 2) the extent to which a traumatic event is reconstructed as
a well- formed story
-both the disclosure of negative emotions and the building of a clear cognitive story are
important components in healthy writing
Feeling and Story: Tomkins Script Theory
-Silvan Tomkins
-a theory emphasizing affect, or human emotion
-focuses more on how affect amplifies drives
-interest/ excitement, enjoyment, surprise, distress, anger, disgust, fear/ anxiety, shame,
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-each feels quantitatively different from each other
-each emotion is linked to a specific facial response
-the occurrence of emotions can be shown by electrical activity in the brain even when there
is no facial expression
-different cultures establish different display rules: that determine that appropriateness of
expressing certain emotions through facial behaviour in certain situations
-emotions emerge as they become adaptive in the life of the infant
-newborn: distress by crying
-2 months: enjoyment by smiling
-3/4 months: interest/ excitement
-6- 12 months: sadness/fear
-2nd year: shame/ guilt
-Tomkins identified two different ideological approaches to life:
-normativism approach: asserts that humans are inherently flawed or evil and therefore
need to be held in check by strong rules and clearly defined contingencies; more likely to
experience excitement and anger
-humanism approach: sees humans as good or capable of goodness, tends to affirm self-
expression and love as basic human instincts; more likely to experience joy and fear
Scenes and Scripts
Basic Concepts
-affect is the supreme motivator in life, scenes & scripts are the great organizers
-Tomkins viewed the person as a playwright who fashions his or her own personal drama
from the earliest weeks of life
-scene: basic component of the drama; the memory of a specific happening or event in ones
life that contains at least one affect and one object of that affect; an organized whole that
includes persons, place, time, actions, and feelings
-scripts: enable us to make sense of the relations among various scenes; a set of rules for
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