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Chapter 10

PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Bruno Bettelheim, Narration, James W. Pennebaker

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Chapter 10
The Meaning of Stories
The Narrating Mind
Jerome Burner:
Paradigmatic mode refers to the human ability to understand reality
through tightly reasoned analyses, positional logic, and cause-and-effect
relationships in the physicochemical world
Narrative mode referring to the human tendency to make sense of
experience through stories, stories are centrally concerned w/ the
vicissitudes of human intention organized in time
Healing and Integration
Bruno Bettelheim says that the psychological power of children’s fairytales help
them work through internal conflicts and crises e.g. Jack and the Beanstalk,
Promotes psychological growth and adaptation
Encourages the child to face the world w/ confidence and hope
Writing or performing a story about oneself can prove to be an experience of healing
and growth
Translating personal trauma into words appears to have long-term health benefits
Pennebaker argues that the process of actively inhibiting feelings and thoughts
about negative events requires excessive physiological work, as in higher heat rate,
skin conductance, and blood pressure
The more a person tries to inhibit thoughts and emotions, the more likely they are
to think about it, leading to heightened anxiety and arousal. Confiding and
consciously confronting the perceptions and feelings associated w/ a traumatic
event allow for the integration or cognitive reorganization of the event
Feeling and Story: Tomkins’s Script Theory
Affect human emotion
Emotions most often identified as primary include
o 3-4 months of life
o Focus and maintain attention and motivate exploratory activity
o Appear in 2nd half of 1st year, fear as well
Each feels qualitatively diff from all the others
Each emotion is innately linked to a specific facial response
Display rules societal norms for the expression of different emotions
Tomkins’s identified two different ideological approaches to life
o Politically conservative in nature
o Asserts that human beings are inherently flawed or evil, need to be
held in chick by strong rules and clearly defined contingencies
o More likely than humanists to emphasize the affects of joy and fear
o Adults scoring high tend to recall negative memories associated w/
o Liberal in orientation
o Seen human beings as good or capable of goodness
o Affirm self-expression and love as basic human values
o Adults scoring high recall negative memories associated w/ fear and
Scenes and Scripts
Basic Concepts
Scene the memory of a specific happening or event in one’s life that contains at
least one affect and one object of that affect
Each scene is an organized whole that includes persons, place, time, actions,
Scripts a set of rules for interpreting, creating, enhancing, or defending against a
family of related scenes
Psychological magnification the process of connecting related scenes into a
meaningful pattern
Analogs a scene that is similar to another scene in a person’s life story or script
Feeling of “here we go again”
Variants a scene that is seen as different from other scenes in one’s life story or
script, people organize positive-emotion scenes in their lives by accentuating
differences, which creates variants, or variations around a common life theme
Positive illusions people overlook the negative aspects of live events and exchange
them with potentially positive meanings
“I may be sick, but not as sick as my good friend’s wife” “God is testing my
resolve, and I will rise to the challenge”
Types of Scripts
Commitment script
Person blind him or herself to a life program or a goral that promises the
reward of intense positive affect
Involves a long-term investment in “improving things”
Person may have a vision of the ideal life or the ideal society and dedicate his
life to realizing or accomplishing this vision
Beings w/ an intensely positive early scene or series of scenes from
Organizes scenes around a clearly defined and undisputed goal
Not likely to entail significant conflict b/w competing goals or troubling
ambivalence about any single goal
Nuclear scripts
Marked by ambivalence and confusion about one’s life goals
Always involves complex approach-avoidance conflicts
Person is irresistibly drawn toward and repelled by particularly conflictual
scenes in their life narrative
Beings with a nuclear scene a positive childhood scene that eventually
urns bad
Initially formed as an attempt to reverse the nuclear scene
Narrative Identity
Narrative identity refers to the internalized and evolving story of the self that a
person consciously and unconsciously constructs to bind together many different
aspects of the self
Provides a person’s life w/ some degree of unity, purpose, and meaning
Development of Life Story
Habermas and Bluck: Life story schema mental structure or pattern for putting a
life into a story form, for making a narrative identity out of a human life