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Chapter 10

CHAPTER 10 - Life Scripts, Life Stories

12 Pages

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Marc A Fournier

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CHAPTER 10: LIFE SCRIPTS, LIFE STORIES Many scholars contended that modern lives are meaningful to the extent that they conform to or express culturally meaningful stories A persons identity is not to be found in behavior nor in the reactions of others, but in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going Though life stories are grounded in reality, they are nonetheless 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 Traits provide a dispositional outline concerning cross-situational trends in behavior (level 1) Characteristic adaptations fill in the details by specifying motivational, social-cognitive, and developmental issues and concerns (level 2) Life stories tell us how a person sees his or her life in the overall and over time and what the overall meaning and purpose of that life might be (level 3) The Meaning of Stories The Narrating Mind Human brain is designed to construe experience in narrative terms Human consciousness in a matter of mentally taking on the position of a narrator Consciousness involves the continuous narration or telling of lived experience At the highest level of consciousness, a personal narrative is constructed Bruner argues that human beings understand the world in two different ways o Paradigmatic mode: comprehend experience in tightly reasoned analysis, logical proof, and empirical observations; order our world in terms of logical theories; we look for cause-and-effect relationships; educational training reinforces this mode o Narrative mode: concerns itself with stories; deals with human wants, needs and goals; good novelists are masters of this mode Narrative mode = mean more than they can say Paradigmatic mode = say no more than they mean Paradigmatic mode is a strangely humbler form of thought than story making Healing and Integration Beyond entertaining and edifying us, stories may also function to integrate aspects of our lives and to heal that which is sick or broken Some scholars and scientists have suggested that integrations and healing are two primary psychological functions of stories and storytelling The fairy tales speak softly and subtly to children, gently but steadily promoting psychological growth and adaptation Simply writing or performing story about oneself can prove to be an experience of healing and growth The healing power of story arises as a major theme in certain forms of psychotherapy where the explicit goal of the treatment is the depathologizing of life Some psychoanalyst maintain that the development of a coherent life story is a major goal in therapy Psychoanalysis involves the coordination of successive narrations whereby the analyst and the client come to construct more adequate and vitalizing stories about the self As many as of the participants in studies cry during disclosures and many feel depressed for a long time after telling Respondents tend to rate the experience of disclosing to be valuable and would want to do it again Translating personal trauma into words appears to have long-term health benefits Opportunity of telling the full story of a stressful event of the past enhances health People who ruminated obsessively about the death of their spouses had more health problems during the year following the death, but those who talked about it with others had fewer obsessive thoughts and fewer health problems in the following year Students who wrote about their traumas for 4 consecutive days showed improved th immune-system functioning by the 4 day Disclosure of traumatic events improves health because the process of inhibiting negative feelings about events requires excessive physiological work, such as high heart rate, skin conductance and blood pressure. Over the long haul, the effects of the physiological arousal accumulate leafing to such stress-related illnesses The more the person tries to inhibit thoughts and emotions, the more he/she is likely to think about that which is being inhibited Confronting the emotions allows the person to put it behind him/her and move on 2 things make disclosure reduce the physiological arousal o The degree of negative emotion expressed o The extent to which a traumatic event is reconstructed as a well-formed story People whose health improved the most after disclosure used more negative emotion words than positive words Pennebaker concluded that both the disclosure of negative emotion and the building of a clear cognitive story are important components in health writing Feeling and Story: Tomkinss Script Theory Affects are the primary motivators of human behavior Affects such as excitement, joy and anger are independent of drives but amplify drives by providing them with motivational power o In Tomkinss view, sex drive itself is not a strong motivator of behavior; sex moves the person to act in a sexual manner when amplified by the effect of excitement Affects According to Tomkinss, natural selection has operated on humans to favor the evolution of a highly differentiated and specialized system of emotions Those emotions often identified as primary by Tomkinss include interest/excitement, enjoyment, surprise, distress, anger, disgust, fear/anxiety, sadness, shame, and guilt Each of the primary emotions can be distinguished on a number of different levels o Each feels qualitatively different from all the others o Each emotion is innately linked to a specific facial response Particular facial expressions are thought to be natural manifestations of primary emotions Mexicans, Brazilians, Germans, Japanese, Americans, and members of certain preliterate tribes tend to agree about the meaning of different facial expressions Occurrence of certain emotions can be shown by measuring electrical activity in the face and brain o Individuals were asked to imagine pleasant and unpleasant scenes while changes in the electrical muscular impulses in their faces were monitored o Electrical activity in the face matches the muscular movements Different cultures establish different display rules that determine the appropriateness of expressing certain emotions through facial behavior in certain situations Emotions emerge as they become adaptive in the life of the infant Tomkinss identified 2 different approaches to ideological approaches to life o Normativism o Humanism Normativism asserts that human beings are inherently flawed or evil and therefore need to be held in check by strong rules and clearly defined contingencies More liberal in orientation, humanism sees human beings as good or capable of
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