Recently, a Dramatica user sent me a series of questions about the potential use of Dramatica in real world psychological analysis. Here’s his questions and my responses:
Question: If StoryMind is a model of a human mind trying to resolve an inequity (as the construct between one mind communicating to another in the communication process of sender of message and receiver of message encoded in symbols, etc), then I have been working to understand how it reflects my own mind and that of those around me. If it truly is an accurate representation of how we perceive the world according to story being a projection of our mind, then I don’t think it should be kept as a writing application only.
Answer: it isn’t being kept for writing only. For the last four years we’ve been working with industry, business, and government agencies, all under the auspices of a major university to do narrative analysis in the real world. We’ve developed whole new techniques for applying the theory. I hope to be making some of this public soon.
Question: Setting aside the Story Engine, how does the problem (or just a difference between two things positive or negative) start in the elements and create a psychology?
Answer: By itself, the problem element does not create a psychology. It forms the anchor point of a psychology (a storyform). It just describes the common point around which all the other psychological elements are hinged or the common element through which they are all connected.
Question: If the psycho-schematic (clever) is a psychology and we don’t change that much once formed, but we do have many different responses to many different contexts, how can I learn to see the way it fits together?
Answer: You need a separate psycho-schematic (storyform) for each context. Our narrative in our job is not likely the same as that with our mate or in our church or when voting. But, personal narratives are factal in nature, meaning that sometimes some of the narratives are actually elements in an ever larger narrative. This is not absolute, however, because the subject matter of our lives, en toto, is the narrative space in which the galaxies, solar systems, and satellites of our psyches operate. Sometimes they are hinged, sometimes they collide, sometimes they are warped by other near-by non-connected narratives, and sometimes they operate independently of all the rest.
Question: Do you teach this in a class?
Answer: I am planning a whole series of upcoming classes and courses in the application of Dramatica in the real world. I’ll announce them in our newsletter and on our blog as they are completed and become available.
Question: Are there exercises that determine how it works?
Answer: Not sure what you mean here – exercises to show how it works? Nope, not until the classes start to be released.
Question: So, with the chart, we could sit down with someone and chart out their current psychology and be able to determine the best course to take in treating that problem (whether the mind is looking in the wrong place or focusing in too much to see the problem, etc)??
Answer: You can only do this in regard to specific contexts (issues). In fact, Dramatica is a model of our complex web of motivations and the tensions that pull upon them. From this motivation map you can project likely behavior. But it must be done in regard to specific problems, situations or contexts. If you have multiple context, you need to prepare a separate storyform for each.
Question: If I started with a single element, what would it do to create a psychology?
Answer: It would provide the seed of motivation from which a psychology can grow, much as a grain of sand provides the seed for a pearl to form.
Question: I know that the Story Engine is biased, and it works fine for most stories, but if your purpose is not storytelling, but narrative of an individual trying to see a clear path, those other Signpost orders that are not allowed would be available too, right?
Answer: Nope, not right. The Story Engine is not really biased. It just takes a point of view. You cannot see anything without a point of view. So, in looking at narrative, the Dramatica model needed to choose a perspective from which to see it. As a result, certain things cannot be seen – BUT – that is only as a fine degree of detail where the perceptual “shadow” leaves an area that cannot be seen directly. But, as with looking a constellations in the night sky, some stars are only visible if you don’t look at them directly, but next to them. In other words, astronomers are able to determine the existence of planets they cannot see by perturbations in the orbits of the parent stars they can see.
So, while certain sequential orders of events are not “allowed” by Dramatica’s story engine, the CANNOT be allowed in a viable psychology from the point of view Dramatica takes of it. Otherwise, it would violate the “laws” of psychology – the rules by which the mind must operate. Again, in other words, Dramatica provides a complete view of motivation and behavior from its chosen point of view – that of the western culture, but it provides all that can be seen from that point of view – like a hologram: if you cut off a corner, the corner will still contain the complete image, just not from every angle available in the original.
Question: And the K-based bias of the model being M/E=S*T is part of being in the world, so it would encompass all of the psychologies (looking from that perspective), right?
Answer: Yes, correct. But, there are all the other permutations of the equation in the model as well, each representing a different part of the process of considering a problem from all available sides in the hunt for a solution. It is the order in which we move from one perspective to the next that creates the DNA sequence of our individual psychologies – in the real world, the memome (based on “meme”) of the mind as opposed to the genome of our bodies.
Question: I mean, as a scientific, mathematical model, trying to apply scientific rigor to a “soft” science like psychology, it would be very valuable (if it changed the way we approach therapy), which would expand the attention Dramatica would get and the theory would grow much faster – or is there no scientific journal where Dramatica would be publishable (if in fact it is not observable, repeatable, testable)??
Answer: A multi-headed question, so here is a multi-headed answer: Psychology is currently a soft science only because it seeks to understand the internal through external observation alone. Narrative structure was created through trial and error to describe individual and group behavior. The conventions of narrative structure turned out to have a pattern that transcended the specific and illustrated the fractal relativity of the mind. Dramatica documented and refined that existing natural pattern to form the first model of the functioning of the mind not based on statistical observation. When this internal “hard” model is used in conjunction with statistical “soft” science psychology, the result is a collaboration of the mechanics and tendencies of psychological issues, forming a “firm” science between the two.
Question: Any exercises you could share as a teacher to a student would be appreciated. 🙂
Answer: Alas, no time. Working on future online classes to explain it all, and can’t break away.