Narrative Psychology Theory Notes

After our Dramatica story structure software was released in 1994 based on our theory on the psychology of narrative, I continued our work by beginning to move into social narrative theory.

At the inception, the ideas came hot and heavy, raw, undeveloped, incomplete, but filled with little stunning insights that started to crack open the black hole of our understanding, as a species, of what drove our own social interactions, and how those dynamics actually worked.

As these little epiphanies emerged, I recorded each new understanding on a micro-cassette recorder so that they might not be lost and could be revisited later for ongoing development.

Here, then, is the transcription of one of these tapes:

Narrative Psychology Theory Notes

Melanie Anne Phillips

It’s 11:30 am on Friday, February 3rd 1995.

First a quote – A living culture should have values, not impose values.

Now a thought on getting back into the unified field concepts which will have great practical application in dealing with the emotional issues of stories and of psychology. 

As an exercise try to match the four kinds of relationships, dynamic, companions, dependent, and component, in a one to one correspondence with the four points of view I, you, we, and they. 

In fact, mass and energy seem to be the external components of our universe, and space and time are internal creations, and that seems true for both men and women. 

As a result, men and women will see dynamic relationships as “you,” and will see component relationships as “they,” so the “you” and the” they” perspectives would be consistent for male and female. 

However, because men have their space-sense, they give preference to an external view of things or looking outward and time sense is a view of looking inward.

When it comes to the other two the companion and dependent pairs, those will be reversed between of men and women as to how they place the perspective of which one is “I” and which one is “we.” 

Now for men, “we” is put in the companion pairs because the companion pairs, buddy type stuff, male bonding, a guy thing, that is where they see “we.”  And they see “I,” as independent and they look as to who they have to depend on, they gear their perspective of who I am by how independent I am verses how dependent I am. 

Whereas for women it is exactly the reverse, women will look at the I perspective in terms of companion pairs.  Who am I friends with?  I define myself by who I am around, that’s where groupies come from. 

Whereas the dependent pair relationship is where they look to as “we.” By being in dependent relationships, women have a sense that they have to rely on each other and because of that there is a certain security or a joining that comes together causing us to be “we” and that could be “we” plural – remember not just “we” meaning you and I, but it could be all of you plural, whenever you feel part of a group for women that would be the dependent relationship.

So this again it is a preference that we would see in those two pair relationships not just between men and women but also of course impacted by the other levels of the mind since this is a pre-conscious leaning of the subconscious.  Memory and conscious would also have impact as to whether it would be in line the way it was described for men and women or it would be actually the reverse in many individuals.

So in general, however: statistically this holds true because society tends to be, as a male society,  built in a male image, and as such it tends to bi-polarize the male and female aspects.

It will see what the preconscious basis is and then exert pressures to force each side of the equation to either a neutral corner, pretty much straight up and down, their minds lined up in that one level.  That is what women’s intuition has been – the attempt to say “no” to that male-minded hierarchy for women.  That’s one place we are, yes, but we also have a whole range.

Whereas men find that threatening because it blurs the distinction between the roles, but naturally this would be the case because in terms of empathy and sympathy men are going to find a huge difference between the way of problem solving spatially or holistically because it is either external or internal. 

Whereas external and internal has no big difference for women.  It is the idea of whether it is temporal or spatial thinking and that is why from this particular perspective women would want to have a full range across the tendencies, whereas men would try to in society have things bipolarized so that the lines become more distinct because they are based on sex.  Which is an external appreciation, which is where they have to have their binaries. 

Women have their binaries too, again, but their binaries is going to be in terms of time and space.  And that would be the division in which women would like to see things separated.  Not by gender, not by sex, but by the linear people verses the holistic people.  And in fact, that is how women would divide their groups naturally when left alone. 

If you have a group of women only, without the influence of men, they will clearly divide into the temporal and the spatial thinkers.  Whereas if you have a group of men and women together, they will divide things between men and women because men control the outside infrastructure. 

When men and women are together, women will not be able to divide into groups that have the male and female temporal thinkers on one side, and the male and female spatial thinkers on the other.  They don’t get a chance to bipolarize because they are not allowed to group together men and women on the bases of anything until it is first separated into men and women.  And then women are only allowed that opportunity to separate their own group of women into the spatial and temporal thinkers. 

This is how you will see the pairings that go on and groupings that go on at a party or at a convention wherever there are a number of people working together.  Unless there is something in the structure that forces men and women to be together, other than that you will find that the men will go over to one side and the women will go over to the other side, and then the women will sub-divide into two groups but the men will not.  And so you end up with three perspectives because the male external one currently is taking precedence in the social organization.

However if the constraints or the requirements of the social interaction demand that men and women be grouped together without a dividing line between the two of them, as uncomfortable as this is for most men, you will find that the larger group will sub-divide itself into two categories of the spatial thinkers and temporal thinkers.

The complex interactions of the social levels caused by this are nothing more than frictal echoes of repeating frictal patterns of things going on in the individual mind. And so the same technology that can be used to describe what’s happening in the internal mind, the same theoretical algorithms can be applied to social relationships — all you  have to do is just upgrade the scope of what you are applying it to and the algorithms will work equally well for complex social interactions.


Okay, here’s another note, this is a quick one for organization of the [Dramatica] department..  We have so much written already on so many topics, we really have to start putting this  together in all kinds of publications. 

As I speak right now, we are only a week, ten days away from having to complete the Dramatica manual which is occupying all our time.  But just by way of setting a direction for myself, I suppose recording it here and putting it into hard copy later as we transcribe this. 

We are generating interesting useful perspectives on all of this all the time. Occasionally, a new concept such as matching up the dynamic pair relationships or the pair relationships with the points of view will come up that haven’t been thought of before but often they are just new ways of saying the same thing being developed.

Now that doesn’t mean that any way is better than any other way that all depends on the audience that we are trying to reach with our understanding of what we found.  We will need many ways to present it and so we can’t just write the book on Mental Relativity or the book on personal problem solving.  We have to write any number of books on those things so that we can have material out there that will speak to various groups that have their own particular biases in which the imagery that we use, the encoding that we’re using is such that it will be attractive or speak clearly to a wide variety of groups because again it is the symbols that we’re using, the encoding, that is going to prevent our message from getting through or make is accessible.

So the multiplicity of effort in that area is not unwarranted, the main thing is we have to set up a system at the office, a normal process where by constantly we are regenerating or generating new works, new modes of expression simply using the text that has already been written recombined in different ways. 

It is not so much an easy program because right now we have so much text that unless someone wanted to be an expert in what’s going on they would not find time, in an entire lifetime, to read everything that we’ve already written about all aspects of this theory. 

That’s why it’s our job as a department to devote full-time ourselves to going through that material and constantly gleaning and culling what we can from it and reassembling it in new packages that make it available to wider segment of the population for the temporal and the spatial thinkers.