Psychology of Literature and Literature in Psychology
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Finally, a work of art is not a text or a concretization, but is something between them. It occurs at the point of convergence between the text and the reader, a point that is never fully defined. A work of art is characterized by its virtual nature and consists of various overlapping procedures. One of them involves the dialectic of protention and retention, two terms borrowed from the phenomenologic theory of Husserl Protention is understood as the state of expectation that prepares the reproduction of a memory i.
It is through ptotention and retention that the texts duplicate, moving from the original texts to new works in the presente.
Iser applies them to our activity of reading successive sentences. When facing a text, we constantly project expectations that can be satisfied or disappointed; at the same time our reading is conditioned by the renunciation of sentences and concretizations.
Because our reading is determined by this dialectic, the basic activity of the reader, according to Iser, resides in the constitution of the meaning stimulated by the text, with this meaning taking shape through the connection of the constitutive elements of the text and of its articulation and combinations responsible for its coherence and cohesion.
According to Iser, it is by filling out the gaps and the blanks of a text that the reader will reach its meaning. The gaps and blanks should be understood as everything that was not said explicitly in the text but was only tacitly suggested.
This involvement with the text is seen as a type of tangle in which what is strange will be understood and assimilated. Iser's viewpoint is that the reader's activity is similar to an ongoing experience.
The gaps also interrupt a good continuation i. The reader must recur to his imaginative activity in order to establishe the meaningful coherence of the text. Constructed in this manner, the horizon of expectations of the reader undergoes additions of new reading expectations through the reader's interpretation of the text he is reading. However, if the reader refuses these interpretations of the text on the basis of the ideological positions he may hold, he will have difficulty in identifying what it has been agreed to call, in the Aesthetic of Reception, the implicit reader i.
The fictional repertory, the textual strategies, the variants of reading, the implcit reader and the gaps of the text are processes that complete the perspective of the text in itself and its reception by the reader, whose space is guaranteed in the studies of his critical successors. By considering that a major work of art always includes a vision of the world that, whether discussed or denied, is an integral part of its meaningDante Moreira Leite seeks to present some questions about literary works for which contemporary psychology has its own perspective, differing from the perspectives of other sciences and of literary criticism itself, such as imitation,suggestion, the peception of shapes, the description of characters, the learning of taste, among others, although without aspiring to the presentation of a general or total solution for its analysis.
What is the legitimacy of this process? According to the authorit is the necessity to explain art based on the characteristics of an individual once the loss of social belief in the supernatural is recognized, as well as the loss of belief in the hereditary determination of individual characteristics and in sociological explanations as the origin of these differences. And, starting from Romanticism, a more marked subjective tendency towards artistic themes and towards interest in criticism is added to these facts.
Psychology in Literature A Psychology as a Perspective for the Reception of Literature Leite believes that, in the creation of a work of art, the author goes beyond the superficial and apparent aspects of everyday life reached from a historical and sociological perspective in the search of what, by being expressed about the human psychological condition, will continue to be valid in highly diverse situations.
Within this context, significant contributions of contemporary psychology such as the description of the behavior and inner experience of an individual as a spontaneous activity, the continuity between the different degrees of problem solving and of the creative capacity and the attempt to interpret the unconscious life through dynamic forces are relevant resources in the attempt to explain the creation and permanence of a literary work.
However, the application of psychological concepts to an analysis of a work of art should be guided by the possibilities of the explanations that such concepts have for this task i. In this case, the permanence of childhood feelings or events in the mental and behavioral life of adults, as well as the evolution of emotionl and affective conflicts in historical continuity, with repression of instincts in proportion to neurotic intensification, are relevant aspects for the approach to individual histories and cultural histories, respectively.
For example, Edgar Allan Poeadopted together with his siblings by prosperous Baltimore merchants, by manifesting interest in productive thought at the expense of business profitability, elicited the displeasure of his adoptive father, who wanted him to continue the prosperity of the family. Thus, he grew up feeling that he was rejected as a writer, a fact that not infrequently had a direct influence on his obsession for the subject of suffering caused by death.
In turn, Kaufholdin a study analyzing fact and fiction regarding Poe's sanity, pointed out psychological, biological and sociocultural human disorders such as anxiety, somatization and dissociation, among others, which, being detected in all cultures and in the most different times, although with different names, permit the readers to observe that they are increasingly able to repress instincts, a fact known to anthropolgists and sociologists in their studies of civilizatory processes of adjustment.
However, the fact that Freudian theory rests on the interdependence between affective or emotional life and rational life, a characteristic that contradicts current beliefs which assume continuity between the two, and on the rationalization of the problems presented by man in his environment in order to show the emotional and conflicting origin of the processes of human thinking, unmasks and destroys the human illusions, whether religious, sentimental or artistic, a fact that limits this theory regarding the analysis of creative thinking.
However, as the experimental confirmation of this concept continued to reach increasingly scientific criteria of verification, being more accepted by scientists, its tendency to identify the same conflicts in all works of art rendered it reductionist and less accepted by writers and art critics.
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The value placed on mysticism and religiosity and the recognition of unconscious forces that project into the external world and generate rich and significant ideas in productive thought caused Jungian theory to become a fertile ground for the development of the diversity of works of art, considered by artists to be a more profound and revealing horizon than the technique and knowledge of the exernal world provided by Freudianism.
All of them to be added to the author's considerations about the four intellectual functions such as thinking, feeling, perception and intuition, that can be characterized according to their appearance in introverted and extroverted subjects. In turn, the geltastists, in their perceptual studies that admit behavior as the result of an organism-environment interaction, opt to work with fields of force acting in various directions, able to organize and reorganize themselves continuously, alternating resting states organized with search states reorganized in order to reach an objective which, once ceased, redirects the subject towards new focalizations.
The advantage of this type of analysis? It is the ability of the analyst, starting from successive states of balance and imbalance, to be able to study the organism exactly at a given moment, being concerned with the history of this organism only if this history is identified as an active force at the time under consideration. What is the difference between the geltastists and Freud and Jung? Also, the geltastists, in contrast to the psychoanalysts, study cases in which behavior is directed by the environment and not by the impulses of the organism, although without isolating behavior and experience, a fact that would render this study inviable.
In other words, according to Leitep. This difference becomes more explicit during an analysis of productive thought in the literature, with psychoanalysts being able to do it in art, but not in science or technique, whereas the geltastists explain the creative thought in science but, when focusing on art, they emphasize aspects linked to perception and not to literary art.
What is responsible for this? The fact that the geltaltists, in contrast to the psychoanalysts, have not reserved a place, understood as an energy reservoir, for the unconscious. This theory emphasizes that the singularity of an individual i.
In the second, with the organism-environment relationship taken to its extreme, the concept of personality would be that, as a set of characteristics, personality does not depend on the context in which an individual is inserted.
In geneal, Leite clarifies that, with the exception of pathological personalities locked up in their on worlds and of depersonalized individuals, who reflect the conditions in which they find themselves, eliminating the importance of the context for personality elicits a reducing focalization on it, without considering, for example, individuals who are able to adjust or to react in a realistic manner without being changed by the reality of the environment in which they are inserted and exist.
Also Leite,p. The refinement of the descriptions of personalities, according to Leite, is often based on literary descriptions or on descriptions of persons who, not yet described by specialists in psychology, add much value and content to the studies of these specialists. In parallel, heredity has been superimposed on previous or temporary experience, causing behavior to be understood as the result of an interaction with the environment. Skinner and Watson, behaviorist psychologists who tend to explain all behaviors through learning, are examples of this.
Considering that the behavior results from this organism-environment interaction, Leite proposed that current psychology should have resources that will explain two forms of behavior that are of direct interest to literature i. If we examine the adequacy of psychology to explain these two behaviors, we will clarify the occurrence and concretization of the attempt of the psychologist and the fiction writer to present a convincing description of a person and of a character.
Reception and Response to the Environment According to Dante Moreira Leitetraditional psychology used to understand human behavior as something resulting from mental life.
Within this context, there would be a causal relation between conscience and behavior i. However, contemporary psychology proposes that conscience should be understood as an intermediate link between environment and behavior i.
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On this basis, various psychological theories utilize different schemes in order to explain behavior. The simplest among these psychological theories seems to be the behavioral theory, whereby the response results from the environment i. This theory is identified by the E-R model i.
With behavior being the result of this organism-environment interaction, Leite believes that current psychology should have the resources for explaining two forms of behavior that are of direct interest to Literaure i. Since the interest of the present study is in the behavior elicited by the reading of a literary work, we shall try to relate below a scheme of the E-R theory to the study proposed by us.
Considering what has been said thus far about the text, reader and expectation, we believe that it is possible to generalize, respectively, a stimulus, organism and respose model in which the text corresponds to the stimulus Ethe reader to the organism O and the expectation to the response R.
This model is commony applicable in Psychology and may explain the creative thought and the reading of a literary work as being forms of behavior and experience, respectively. On this basis, we would have the following scheme: The above scheme refers to perception i. Considered in this way, this scheme permits us to understand that the same work can be perceived at various levels, with different intensities, and mainly being susceptible to the idiosyncrasies of the reader.
On the basis of the studies of Rozestratenand transposing them as far as possible to the study of the role of the reader in the literature, we conclude that at least three conditions are necessary in order to produce an adequate reading of a given work i.
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By connecting the elements of this scheme with one another, we understand that they are valid for a schematic representation of the process of textual reception. It should be remembered, however, that it is not a stimulus that provokes and determines the response of the critic, but that this response is also influenced by the organism with all of its previous experience and learning i. The cycle is continuous and its division into stages is only used to clarify its more important events and to render the explanation of the reading process as didactic as possible.
Any interpretation is simply a way of revealing aspects of a determined work, always falling short of its total content.
We should remember, however, that specific focalizations on the creative process i. Problemas e perspectivas pp. As regras da arte: Rio de Janeiro, RJ: A Ideia da Fenomenologia. Jaus, A literatura e o leitor: O ato da leitura: The neuroses of Edgar Allan Poe: A fever called living. Elementos de Psicologia Vols. A psicologia e o estudo da literatura In D. Leite, Psicologia e Literatura.
Editora da Universidade Estadual Paulista. Biblioteca Universal Estados Unidos - Contos. Liinc em Revista, 1 1 College English, 25 7 The psychology and ethics of personality. Literary Cultures of Latin America: Configurations of literary culture. What we love dims the rest of the universe, whether we love a person, a drug, or an idea.
Or even, I would venture, an art form. She reads what she knows she likes, until one day she wakes up to find that what she likes no longer measures up to what she needs.
When I was 18, I did the same two things as a million other year-olds: I went to college, and I got depressed. To my naive surprise, depression changed what I needed from my reading. It made the great realist novel, until then my deepest pleasure, feel far away, like the events it described were happening to characters living in a world a few feet to the left of mine.
No longer for me setups, marriages, intrigues, misunderstandings. I embarked on what amounted to a research project that took as its object of study my own emotional state. Ten years later, I still consider these books foundational. For these authors were writing literature of a kind; you could hear it in the music of their prose and their command of figurative language.
And their concerns were literary, which is to say they were interested in the same vital questions about the human condition that philosophers and novelists have asked for millennia.
The difference between the genres lay not in what stories they told, but in how they told them, each according to the intellectual tradition from which its authors had come. Despite their divergent frameworks, both traditions were organized around that fact of human experience that summoned art and philosophy into being: An essential mission of literary and psychological writing is to construct a taxonomy of pain in order to extract meaning from it—because if pain means nothing, then it cannot be borne.
Whereas literature gestures at this mission obliquely, psychology features it front and center. Which is one reason it had previously escaped my notice. Depression forced me into a critical intimacy with my pain, made up of traumas and anxieties that had heretofore lain dormant.
But now I peered into the well of my discomfort, craning to see its dark recesses. As I dove deeper, my reading advanced from the popular to the academic: Each forced me, to greater and lesser degrees, to remake my world in its image. Article continues after advertisement I felt exhilarated, newly awakened, yet also prickled by that annoyance you feel when you discover on your own what smarter people should have made you read long ago.
When I thought of introducing a psychological context to these discussions, I balked, restrained by a sure premonition of pushback, or worse, blank stares.
I do not think this dread was unfounded. No matter that the psychoanalytic tradition was quick to outgrow Freudian orthodoxy, beginning with Jung and Lacan and continuing into its present incarnation, which ranges from Buddhist mindfulness to gestalt to feminist analysis. And even the ideas of Freud himself were never confined to the pinhole of the individual and his neuroses; he was always already writing social theory on a grand scale.
Snow to describe the chasm in Western intellectual life between the humanities and the sciences. Though some have heard in the current vogue of multi- and interdisciplinary studies the death knell of the culture war, we are everywhere surrounded by evidence of its vigor.
Too much pathology, says Roth, which is too particular, too strange to generalize in the way that literature ought to allow for. As though pathology were not universal. As though there were any difference between mind and brain. And as though the scope of human knowledge were a finite resource, to be doled out between disciplines like wartime rations. Rather than berate the neuronovelist for letting icky science into her writing, we ought to commend her for broadening the purview of literature to include insights gleaned from other territories.