Tag Archives: Psychology

Psychological and Sociological Methodology Determines what Literature is

“Studying literature is not as simple as just reading words on a page.”

Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki “used psychological and sociological methodologies to determine what literature was. He devised a mathematical formula as a theoretical answer: “F + f = literature.”

“F” refers to the impressions or ideas at the focal point of consciousness and “f” signifies emotions attending to those impressions or ideas.

Different readers interact with texts differently based on sociological and psychological factors […] ’F+f’ is not about books, but something that happens in the mind of the reader.”

Soseki argued his formula is a way to define world literature for all cultures and times.

“If you get the feeling of ‘F+f’, then you’re in the realm of literature”.

From and More:  valleyvanguardonline.com/?p=6137

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Storytelling Hightens Moral Reasoning

Intriguing new evidence “shows a positive correlation between literacy and moral reasoning, most particularly between reading fiction and being able to take the perspective of others. Perspective-taking in novels requires a matrices-like rotation of relational positions combined with an understanding of what it would feel like if X happened to you, even though the “you” in this case is a character in the novel.”

“In a 2011 study, for example, the Princeton neuroscientist Uri Hasson and his team scanned the brain of a woman while she told a story out loud that the scientists recorded and subsequently played back for other subjects while their brains were being scanned. When the reader’s emotional brain region called the insula lit up during a certain portion of the story, so too did the listeners’ insulas; when the woman’s frontal cortex became active during a different part of the story, the same region in listeners’ brains was also activated. It’s almost as if the fictional story synchronized the reader’s and listeners’ brains.”

“This experiment is important because it nails down the direction of the causal arrow from reading literary fiction to perspective taking, eliminating the objection that perhaps people who are interested in and good at interpreting the mental states of others just happen to be people who read novels.”

From: reason.com/archives/2015/02/17/are-we-becoming-morally-smarte

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Does Fiction Open Closed Minds?

“One question tackled in this study is whether reading nonfictional texts such as essays has effects on belief processing that are different from those of reading fictional texts such as short stories. In both cases, a reader tries to understand another’s thinking (and feeling). The difference, though, is that in nonfiction there is a clear delineation between the author’s and the reader’s opinions, such that the reader is either persuaded or not by the author’s arguments and stances. With nonfiction, changing or not changing the content of one’s belief system is still bound by permanence and, in at least some cases, by urgency, because one’s opinion, once settled upon, can have implications for decision making. The content of one’s belief system may change, but meta-cognitive processes may be unaffected. With fiction it was hypothesized that there may be greater flexibility of a meta-cognitive kind. It was previously found that whether a text was nonfiction or fiction made no difference to whether changes occurred in participants’ self perceived personality when they read the text; only the text’s artistic level affected personality (Djikic, Oatley & Carland, 2012). In this article, there is a different, meta-cognitive question in relation to beliefs. Is fiction, specifically, able to open closed minds?”

From, and read more: tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10400419.2013.783735#/doi/full/10.1080/10400419.2013.783735

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True as Fiction

“Understanding stories is similar to the way we understand the real world. “When people read stories we invoke personal experiences. We’re relying not just on words on a page, but also our own past experiences. … We often have thoughts and emotions that are consistent with what’s going on in a story.”

According to research, “social outcomes that could come out of being exposed to narrative fiction can include exposure to social content, reflecting on past social interactions, or imagining future interactions.” “We may gain insight into things that have happened in the past that relates to a character in a story, and resonates with our experiences.”

“Even though fiction is fabricated, it can communicate truths about human psychology and relationships.”

From: m.firstpost.com/living/heres-reading-fiction-will-make-better-person-1660663.html

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Creativity a Byproduct of Mental Disorder?

“intelligence doesn’t have much effect on creativity: most creative people are pretty smart, but they don’t have to be that smart […] But if high IQ does not indicate creative genius, then what does? […]

What differences in nature and nurture can explain why some people suffer from mental illness and some do not? And why are so many of the world’s most creative minds among the most afflicted? […]

As research methodology improved over time, the idea that genius might be hereditary gained support. […]

For many of my subjects from that first study—all writers associated with the Iowa Writers’ Workshop—mental illness and creativity went hand in hand. This link is not surprising. The archetype of the mad genius dates back to at least classical times, when Aristotle noted, “Those who have been eminent in philosophy, politics, poetry, and the arts have all had tendencies toward melancholia. […]

Among those who ended up losing their battles with mental illness through suicide are Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Vincent van Gogh, John Berryman, Hart Crane, Mark Rothko, Diane Arbus, Anne Sexton, and Arshile Gorky. […]

The creative […] and their relatives have a higher rate of mental illness than the controls and their relatives do. […] 

Why does creativity run in families? What is it that gets transmitted? How much is due to nature and how much to nurture? Are writers especially prone to mood disorders because writing is an inherently lonely and introspective activity? What would I find if I studied a group of scientists instead?”

And the answer is: theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/06/secrets-of-the-creative-brain/372299/

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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/

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