Tag Archives: Psychology

Pleasure Reading: a Hypnotic Trance

For deeper experience multitask less while reading:

“The deep reader, protected from distractions and attuned to the nuances of language, enters a state that psychologist Victor Nell, in a study of the psychology of pleasure reading, likens to a hypnotic trance. Nell found that when readers are enjoying the experience the most, the pace of their reading actually slows. The combination of fast, fluent decoding of words and slow, unhurried progress on the page gives deep readers time to enrich their reading with reflection, analysis, and their own memories and opinions. It gives them time to establish an intimate relationship with the author, the two of them engaged in an extended and ardent conversation like people falling in love.”

From: http://ideas.time.com/2013/06/03/why-we-should-read-literature/

Hitmen, Fiction vs Real Life (and Death)

A must for readers and writers of thrillers:

“A group of researchers at the Center for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University in the U.K. has recently analyzed newspaper articles, court records, and a series of “off-the-record” interviews with informants “who have, or who had, direct knowledge of contract killings” in order to construct what they term a “typology” of British hitmen.” …

“The main thrust of the paper, which will be published in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, is that hitmen do not operate with the drama, professionalism, or glamour that mob films and spy novels afford them. In actuality, the majority of killers select jejune settings for their crimes, have occasionally bumbling performances, and are often hired by contractors with lame motivations.”

“Here’s the profile of an average British hitman, who seems more confined by the boxy restraints of reality than the undulating arcs of fiction:”

“He kills on the cheap. The average asking price was £15,180. It was £100,000 at the highest level, and a teenager was shafted with £200 at the low end.” …

“The weapon of choice was a firearm.” …

“Most of the killers were working on first-time contracts, meaning there weren’t many long-distance snipers taking shots from towers.” …

READ MORE: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/politics-and-law/how-hitmen-operate-73430/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+miller-mccune%2Fmain_feed+%28Pacific+Standard+-+Main+Feed%29

A Bloodline to the Page

“The majority of mental illness diagnoses are NOS (not otherwise specified.)  It is very likely that future poets will suffer a mood disorder NOS.  Like those analyzed before their arrival who do not have a definitive diagnosis, there is hope.  The ability of these writers to strike a chord in the literary world may not be an ability learned, or completely understood, but it cannot be ignored.  It is a raw mental vein running straight from the mind to the paper.  It is often times not tried, or orchestrated, but a bloodline to the page.  A writer has their craft to express their mind which is evidence to further expose the intricate nature of how the mind works.

There is no certain way a writer can explain the fierce flow of ideas from word to word, line to line, stanza to stanza, any more than a doctor can fully understand a disease that has no clear diagnosis, and is often reduced to NOS (not otherwise specified.)  Both are like throwing darts in a dim light, however, through a careful look at writers works in the past, the present, and those yet to be discovered, we may find some answers to the behaviors of manic-depressive people.  These writers all share moments captured in writings that reflect their mind which serve as a tool for education.

Through a thorough examination of these trends, one may better understand the mind Not Otherwise Specified, and find answers to the plethora of questions surrounding the diagnosis of manic-depression.”

From: blogs.psychcentral.com

Writing Sheds Light on Mental Illness

“I have often analyzed how mental illness can be tracked, discovered, and understood through the written word. Let’s take a break from science and take a look at literature. The analysis of writings opens a door to explore alternative methods of understanding individuals suffering from manic-depressive disorder.

“Through a thorough examination of writings, we can look at specific mental states of individuals, which in turn may inform those looking for answers, or symptoms of bipolar minds, which often times get NOS (Not Otherwise Specified) as a diagnosis.  The medical field continues to evolve in their understanding of the intricate, often mysterious behaviors of manic-depressive individuals.  A look at reoccurring themes and stylistic techniques may reveal affected writers share a commonality in their writings.  An exploration of the works may help find a way for society to better understand individuals suffering from mental disease, and discover those not yet diagnosed with manic-depression.

“Throughout history there have been writers and poets that suffer from manic depression.  If we take a close look at the writings of these renowned writers we find a link to mental illness and the English language. An examination of their stylistic techniques, diction, metaphor, simile and expression manifest their mental illness which can help discover how mental illness can be learned outside of science, engineering, and neurology.”

More: blogs.psychcentral.com

Literature more memorable when posted on Facebook

“Laura Mickes and her team took 200Facebook stat us updates, stripped them of their context, and showed them to 32 participants alongside other decontextualised lines from 200 different fiction and nonfiction books.

The participants were shown the lines on a screen, briefly, and given the choice of saying whether it had been repeated from earlier in the experiment or not.

The results found that, across the board, people were one and a half times as likely to remember a Facebook post as a line from a book — and, when a similar experiment was carried out with faces instead of the lines from novels, it showed that people were two and a half times as likely to remember the Facebook posts over the faces.”

From: http://blogs.wsj.com/tech-europe/2013/01/17/social-media-posts-more-memorable-than-literature/

SpyWriter Jack King || “A new King of thrillers on the horizon” || Author of Political Thrillers || http://www.SpyWriter.com

Reading fiction affects perception

“Can people change their minds by reading fiction?

There’s not a lot of systematic research on how reading fiction changes people’s opinions or behavior, but one study found that a majority of serious readers reported that one or more books had in some way helped them or made a big difference in their lives. Another study found that people’s ratings of their own personalities changed more after reading a Chekhov story than after reading the same information presented as if it were a real court transcript. The fictional version also generated a greater emotional response, even though it wasn’t judged any more interesting than the non-fiction version. …

But what about the content of what you read in literature? The arguments? Can they change your mind about something important?

Not that much is known … especially about what you might consider to be ‘something important.’ But we do know that people partially compartmentalize what they read in fiction, keeping it separate from what they believe is true of the real world. But at the same time we know that there can be some leakage. For example, if you read a story in which a character mentions, in passing, that most mental illness has been shown to be contagious, you’ll have a harder time rejecting the idea later on, at least for the few minutes after reading the story. You can also pick up ‘misinformation’ without later realizing that it comes from the story.”

More: http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2012/12/03/166362989/learning-facts-through-fiction-an-imagined-encounter

SpyWriter Jack King “A new King of thrillers on the horizon” http://www.SpyWriter.com

Loneliness of a double life

As new school year approaches and recruiters will be sweeping every campus for impressionable youth it may be a good idea to recount what it is like to be a spy:

“Intelligence agents lead double lives, requiring them to regularly deceive other people, and not just their targets. It is not easy for a person with a solid social conscience to sustain a lifestyle that involves covertly influencing or controlling others through lies. Agents can come to feel subtly detached or separated from other people, feelings that may persist even when they resume their normal lives once their espionage is over.

These psychological burdens of detachment and loneliness are acute while the agents are deployed and living their covers among their targets, where the seemingly trusting social relationships they have built with targets are mostly false, based on lies and manipulation. Sometimes they frankly despise the targets they are pretending to admire. Their real personalities are buried under layers of clandestinity; there is no one there who is aware of their true status, other than themselves. One particularly self-aware agent described his psychological situation while deployed as a form of solitary confinement, with his own skull his prison cell.”

More: http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2012/07/05-spy-wilder

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http://www.SPYWRITER.com

The redeeming power of literature

“New research by Stanford’s Joshua Landy , associate professor of French and Italian, illustrates how authors throughout the ages have sought to improve mental skills like rational thinking and abstract thought by leading their readers through a gantlet of mental gymnastics.

In contrast to the common practice of mining fictional works for moral messages and information, Landy’s theory of fiction, outlined in his new book, “How to Do Things with Fictions,” presents a new reason for reading in an age when the patience to tackle challenging pieces of writing has dwindled tremendously.

Reading fiction “does not make us better people in the moral sense, whether by teaching us lessons, making us more empathetic or training us to handle morally complex situations,” said Landy.

However, for those interested in fine-tuning their intellectual capacities, Landy said literary works of fiction can offer “a new set of methods for becoming a better maker of arguments, a better redeemer of one’s own existence, a person of stronger faith or a person with a quieter mind.”

More: http://paloalto.patch.com/articles/fiction-books-give-a-boost-to-the-brain-says-stanford-professor

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Everybody is a storyteller

“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories,” declares Jonathan Gottschall in the preface to his recent book The Storytelling Animal.

Just as pilots train on a computerized flight simulator, so do humans learn to deal with life situations by practicing them through the medium of stories:

“Through stories we learn about human culture and psychology, without the potentially staggering costs of having to gain this experience firsthand”. It is because stories help us rehearse how to deal with life’s potential problems … 

Because the purpose of stories is to teach us about life, the job of our storytelling mind is to make sense of what happens in the world around us.

But if our experiences don’t contain obvious meaning and purpose, our mind will fill in what’s missing from those experiences so as to create a meaningful story:

“If the storytelling mind cannot find meaningful patterns in the world, it will try to impose them. In short, the storytelling mind is a factory that churns out true stories when it can, but will manufacture lies when it can’t”.

According to Gottschall, the stories our minds create serve one overarching purpose: They make society work better by defining and inculcating a sense of morality. … Even literary works contribute to teaching morality:  “Fiction almost never gives us morally neutral presentations of violence. When the villain kills, his or her violence is condemned. When the hero kills, he or she does so righteously. Fiction drives home the message that violence is acceptable only under clearly defined circumstances—to protect the good and the weak from the bad and the strong”. He cites newly emerging research suggesting that reading fiction affects people’s brain functioning and thereby helps shape their outlooks and attitudes; he notes that reading nonfiction does not produce the same results.”

More: http://metapsychology.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=book&id=6527&cn=139

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http://www.SPYWRITER.com

Reading fiction brings you to reality

“When it comes to figuring out crucial lessons of human behavior, timeless works of fiction are unparalleled primers. As Keith Oatley, a professor in the department of human development and applied psychology at the University of Toronto, recently told the Guardian: “Reading fiction improves understanding of others, and this has a very basic importance in society, not just in the general way [of] making the world a better place by improving [empathy] … but in specific areas such as politics, business, and education.”

When E.M. Forster asked a hypothetical reader in his book Aspects of the Novel why he read fiction, the character said, “It seems a funny sort of question to ask—a novel’s a novel—well, I don’t know—I suppose it tells a story, so to speak.” The story is essential, of course, to keep us engaged. But those of us who are drawn to novels aren’t there purely for entertainment (particularly not in this era when we can watch all the movies, television shows, and viral videos we want). No, most of us go between the pages to get inside different minds and learn more about how people tick. It’s no coincidence that the world’s best novelists are some of our most outstanding psychologists.”

Reading fiction will help your love life: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/01/20/virgil-jane-austen-and-other-authors-can-teach-us-about-love.html