My Blog Friends

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Hi All,
I will be out of town until next week so I will not be getting on until then. Hope everyone has a great weekend. I look forward to catching up after I get back.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

Abraham Maslow created a hierarchy of needs in 1943 called Theory of Human Motivation.  Today we know it as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is a scale that shows the different needs that people need. There are certain needs that must be met before others can be actualized and so you have a hierarchy of needs. It is kind of like the song that Tevye sings in Fiddler On The Roof,  “If I were a rich man.” Tevye says if I were a rich man he could do many things even study the holy book. In other words if his basic needs like food and protection were taken care of he could focus more on his spirituality.

So there are several levels within the hierarchy and it starts off with the Physiological level that includes Breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, and excretion.  Maslow proposed that if these needs are not met a person will not have any desire or motivation to even look at other needs that he may or may not need. These are the very basic of needs that must be met in order to survive.

The next level is Safety, which includes security of: body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, and property. Once a person’s physical needs are met they can move onto meeting their safety needs.  Think about what happens to people when these needs are not being met such as during natural disaster, war, terrorist attacks, family violence, childhood abuse, and economic crisis. I think we are all familiar with one or more of these especially right now during the economic crisis.

The next step is love/Belonging, which includes friendship, family, and sexual intimacy.  This is an interesting need because at times it overrides the other needs in the hierarchy especially in childhood. There was an experiment done with monkeys in which a baby monkey had to choose between food and the comfort of a mother monkey. The monkey chose the comfort over the food. So this level is very powerful when going off of instinct alone. It is also a good lesson too parents that attention is one of the things that kids crave the most.

Okay that is enough for today I will talk about the rest tomorrow. Are the needs of your characters being met? What are your thoughts on the hierarchy?

Monday, May 23, 2011


Personality is the characteristics that a person has that uniquely identify that person. These characteristics influence the cognitions, motivations, and behaviors of that person in certain situations.  There are several theories on personalities and many assessments that are used to asses personality. These theories are derived based on the philosophical standpoint that the theorists have. There are five categories that these theorists debate over.

Freedom vs. Determinism: This is the debate over whether or not we have control over our behavior. Are the actions we take in merely reactions to circumstances and we have no control over that reaction or do we control our behavior and understand the motives behind that behavior.

Heredity vs. Environment:  We have already had this discussion. In a nut shell are we born with our personality or do we learn it from the environment in which we live. I believe it is a little of both.

Uniqueness vs. Universality: This is the difference between behaviorists and humanists. Are people unique or do we all have the same similar nature. This is also important to understand when we discipline and how we change our behavior. Personal opinion is that we are unique but have common traits. I have four kids and I definitely see their uniqueness and similarities.

Active vs. Reactive: Do we act through our own initiative or do we just react to stimuli. I believe again in the middle road but lean more toward the active participants. “I think therefore I am.” To me if I can think about thinking and think about things around me and then act this is active participation in my actions.

Optimistic vs. Pessimistic:  This is the thought of being able to change our personalities. If you believe that you can change your personality then you are optimistic. If you believe that you can’t then you are pessimistic. I tend to be more pessimistic on this one and it is clearly seen in the personality disorders. One of the difficult things with working with these people is that they do not change. They can learn to cope and medication helps manage but, do they truly change. This is of course extreme but is a good example of personality.

Think of these different categories and your own thoughts on them when creating your characters and how they change.

Friday, May 20, 2011


So we have been studying different problems that occur due to strokes. One of them that I have been assigned to is Broca’s Aphasia. This is a very interesting problem that occurs due to Broca’s area being damaged. Broca’s area is the part of the brain that affects language, Wernicke’s area also affects language.

There are many different things that can happen with this area being damaged and there are many youtube videos that show these problems. One video that I find quite amazing was one on a guy that learned to talk again after a stroke using Melodic Intonation Theory. Click here to see it.

So how do we incorporate this into characterization? To me I think that we can use different weaknesses that occur due to brain damage to make our characters more real. We can write in a speech problem for our mc that he must struggle with. I think we have to be careful though not to make it too cumbersome for the story.

What are your thoughts on giving our MC weaknesses? How much is too much and how much is too little?

Thursday, May 19, 2011


How do we create realistic emotions in our characters? I am editing my first book and I’m finding that the main character is doing a lot of crying. It’s like every other scene he is either crying or falling asleep, kind of wears on you after a while. So today let’s talk about realistic emotions for our characters.

So what are emotions in the first place? They are Psychophysiological experiences in which biochemicals in our brain interact with external stimuli. They are based upon a person’s mood, temperament, personality, disposition and motivation. There are many different theories about emotions and why they happen or how they happen.

One thing that interests me a lot about emotions is the motivation behind them. What does the person get from showing a particular emotion? For example why does a person cry when they are pulled over by a police officer? Is it truly because they are scared or could it be the person is trying to manipulate the police officer into letting them off easy. This I think would be important to look at when dealing with our characters, why are they doing what they do?

Another point that I find interesting is the different reactions that people have in different situations. One person may react by crying, another by laughing, and another by anger to the exact same situation. This is because of the differences in the people’s makeup, no not the stuff you put on your face, but the personality, temperament, and past experiences.

Let’s make a list of emotions and how a character might ‘show’ that emotion. It’s easy to ‘tell’ an emotion but much harder to show it. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Defense Mechanisms Part 9:

Okay we are at the end of the defense mechanisms so if anyone has something that they would like to hear about next let me know, otherwise I’ll just pick something else. I have had a lot of fun looking at these defense mechanisms and incorporating them in my new book that I have started and in the editing process of my older books. I hope that you have found them useful.

Introjection is when a person identifies with an idea or object that it becomes part of them. This can be as simple as picking up sayings that a friend is saying. It would be interesting to write this into a book in a way that the reader could see what was happening to the particular character.

Sublimation is when a person changes negative emotions or instincts into positive ones, “Making lemonade out of lemons.” This is seen in a lot of the books we write and read. It is what makes our characters the heroes of the story.

Thought suppression is where a person delays a need or feeling because it would take away from a current situation. A person who just finds out that their mother is in the hospital but is taking a very important exam suppresses the urge to think about his mother and instead concentrates on the test. This is a very good thing to learn to do because it also deals with suppressing urges that anger brings on as well. This does not mean the person does not deal with the emotion they just wait for an appropriate time and place to deal with it.

So what defense mechanism have you used recently in constructing your characters? Which one will you be using soon?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Defense Mechanisms Part 8:

Sorry about missing Saturday I really don’t know what happened. Well back to defense mechanisms. But before we get there I have started my summer classes and I am taking a neuro Psych class, all about the brain. It is absolutely amazing how complex and wonderful our brains are. So anyways, back to defense mechanisms. I saved the best for last, the mature defense mechanisms. Hopefully we use these most of the time.

Altruism is when a person serves others and it brings pleasure and personal satisfaction. It is amazing how much better I feel after serving others. By serving we forget about our own problems and focus on others. It really is a great way to feel better.

Anticipation is when we plan realistically for future discomforts. This is different than pessimism because we are making plans to overcome difficulties rather than just worrying and expecting the worst. The key is in the attitude of planning.

Humor is finding the funny side of things that are too difficult to talk about directly. It is talking overtly about things in a way that give pleasure to others. It is using witticism to make an uncomfortable situation light and easy to talk about.

Identification is where we become like another person. This can be both good and bad. If we become like our hero and emulate the good things about that person then it is good, but if we become so enmeshed with the person that we forget who we are then there is a problem. It is important that our kids identify with us (well if we are good people that is) so that they learn correct ways of behaving in society.

So here are some positive defense mechanisms that we should be using with our characters as we put them in imminent danger. How can you use these with your characters? Use a fifty word flash fiction to do this. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Defense Mechanisms Part 7:

Well it looks like Blogger deleted my Thursday post so I will use it for Today. Sorry for the repeat. Hope everyone had a great day yesterday!

We will be looking at the last of the neurotic Defense Mechanisms.

Reaction Formation is when we take the opposite belief of what we really believe because what we really believe causes anxiety, converting unconscious desires and wishes to their opposites because of the perceived danger. An example would be a person who is ultra-religious because they fear that going against the religious belief will bring them sadness. Think of the very pious.

Regression is when we revert to a childlike state to deal with a stressful situation. This is generally temporary.

Repression is widely debated on how true this is. It is when a person forgets or represses a situation; the emotions are still there though. Remember the hypnotherapy of bringing back repressed memories of childhood abuse many of which turned out to be false. I think a lot of the doubt comes from these earlier days. My personal feeling is that we may forget certain things but I think that with active concentration then we would be able to remember them.

Undoing is when a person tries to ‘undo’ a destructive or negative thought by doing the opposite. An example is when we are talking negatively about a person and then try to undo it by pointing out all the good things about them. Or if we think about killing someone then we will undo it by looking at their good points and how we can be nice to them.

Withdrawal is when a person withdraws from situations or stimuli that cause negative feelings or thoughts. This can mean that the person no longer leaves the house or will not make left hand turns or …

So what was your favorite neurotic defense mechanism and how would you use it? How would you help your character overcome the defense mechanism?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Defense Mechanisms Part 6:

First off Thank you all for your well wishes! My wife is home and doing well. The surgery went well and she is moving around.

Now down to business once again J  Today will be more on the Neurotic Defenses.

Intellectualization is when a person just focuses on the facts, distancing themselves from the emotional aspects of a situation.  This is part of the next defense, isolation, and is a way a person isolates him/herself from a situation. I see this much more in men than women, does not mean it doesn’t happen in women.

Isolation is separating feelings from ideas and events. I have talked to a lot of young children who will just give the facts about a horrendous abuse situation and show absolutely no emotion about the event. They separate themselves emotionally from the event so that it doesn’t hurt. If we can move ourselves away from emotions and no longer feel, we also no longer have to hurt. This is very sad to me but understandable.

Rationalization (making excuses) is a person convincing him/herself that all is well and that no wrong has been done by using faulty reasoning. A person will make convenient excuses for the situation or behavior. It is a way to get away from responsibility. Now days I see this behavior a lot for our children who are now becoming adults. It seems that that our children are given excuses by society ranging from bad parenting to mental and health problems. This does not mean that they are not valid excuses only that if that is all they are given then there is a chance that they will always use them. For example ADHD is a real problem and definitely causes a lot of stress in a child and adult’s life but it is manageable and with help the person can become an amazing person. It is important for them to see their weaknesses but to also see their strengths and that they can succeed.

I think I would like to use rationalization in a story to show a person going from not being able to succeed but to one who does succeed. I also think that a good comic relief could have the intellectualization defense mechanism in a dark humorous situation. He could be the sidekick who always looks at the horrible events without any emotion. Think of the show “bones” the main character drives me insane with her lack of emotion but tweaking her personality and the situation a little I could see some humor there. I don’t know I will have to think on that one just an idea.

How would you use these defense mechanisms in your characters?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Defense Mechanisms Part 5:

Today we will be moving on to the neurotic defense mechanisms.

Displacement is a defense mechanism that shifts the anger we have for someone or something to another thing or person. The best example is dad goes into work gets yelled at by boss comes home and yells at wife who in turn yells at kid who then kicks the dog. They are all turning their anger from something bigger than them to something smaller.

Dissociation is when a person moves away from something (emotionally or physically) that is causing great amounts of stress/discomfort. The person does this to avoid emotional distress. A loved one dies and the person changes to a happy go lucky person to avoid the pain of the death.

Hypochondriasis is the excessive preoccupation about having a serious illness. This sometimes is seen as an attention getter for the person. They go to the doctor and get attention or from family and friends. The trick with these people is that the illness and symptoms must be ruled out first. About 3%of the people who visit a primary care facility suffer from hypochondria.

Okay now if you find grammatical errors it is because my wife has not gone over this previously she is currently recovering from surgery but is doing just fine.  We spent about 6 hours yesterday in the ER trying to figure out what was causing her abdominal pain. It turns out she had appendicitis. So today I am sorry for not replying to your posts and visiting your blogs but I will catch up I promise J Once again everything is fine and the surgery went well. And no it isn’t because she is a hypochondriac J Have a great day everyone.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Defense Mechanisms Part 4

Today we will look at the last three of the immature defense mechanisms.

Projection is when a person takes feelings and thoughts that he/she has and projecting them onto others. Extreme jealousy, prejudice, and or hyper-vigilance are examples of this. Think of the people that are strongly against something even though they desire it themselves. Sexual desires are some of the biggies.

Projective identification is when a person projects feelings, thoughts, and or behaviors into another. They believe their spouse is sleeping around and so they constantly harass them until they finally do and then they can say I told you so, it is self-fulfilling prophecy. Another example is the belief that others do not love me and so you fulfill that by behaving in such a way that the other person doesn’t love you.

Somatization is feeling bad about another person and instead of expressing it in a healthy manner you turn it into a negative feeling toward self, causing sickness and pain and anxiety.

These symptoms could make a great psychological thriller don’t you think? Let us all know some characters that you have seen behave this way.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Winner of the Drawing!!

The day has come to announce the winner of the $15.00 gift card for Amazon. Before getting to that though I just want all of you to know how much I have enjoyed your comments and support throughout this blogging venture.
The winner is Emily. Congratulations for winning. I will send you an email with the information.
Thanks again for the fun time this has been have a wonderful Mother's Day see you all tomorrow.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Last day to get your entries in and to sign up for the drawing!!

This is the last day to get your entries in and to enter into the drawing. Go here to read the rules and to comment so I know that you want to win. I have really enjoyed this past week of wonderful stories and comments. In fact the last month has been amazing. All of the comments and new friends that I have met has been delightful, getting to know old friends better, extraordinaire.  I can’t thank you enough for your support and kind words. I truly wish I could give all of you a $15 gift certificate but since I can’t, this will have to do (Maybe when I get published and make it big ;)

As a writer, one of the hardest questions I get is, “what is your book about?” I’m supposed to be able to give a one sentence response to this, especially in the query letter. So, for the last day, I’m asking you, “What is your blog about?” In your comment below write a one sentence blurb of why we should visit your blog. Go ahead, advertise yourself and make yourself shine.

Here’s mine:
In the blog “How to Diagnose Your Character” you’ll learn how to use psychology to truly understand your characters and make them come alive in your readers’ mind. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Defense Mechanisms part 3:

Today we will be looking at half of the immature defense mechanisms. Remember to see this in adolescents is normal but in adults not so much.

Acting out is the expression of the unconscious without the conscious knowing the emotion that drives the behavior. Remember in kids we see this because it gets the kid what he/she wants. It can be attention to the ice cream cone. In an adult it is a different story all together.

Fantasy is when a person retreats into a fantasy world to deal with problems. We see kids act out their fantasies all the time and as writers we are doing this as well. The problem is when we live in the fantasy worlds we have created and no longer deal with real life.

Idealization is when we see others as being more than they really are. We see the other person’s qualities and see none of their faults. Relationships come to mind on this one. Think of those people that stay in a relationship even when their parents and loved ones are screaming no. Another good example is the superstars we idolize.

Passive aggression is an interesting one because the person looks sweet and kind to your face but expresses aggression in ways that can not necessarily be pin pointed, for example procrastination. It is caused because the person fears to confront or stand up for oneself and so the only way to express their frustration is by passive means.

Okay, I really enjoyed the stories and since this is my blog I get to do what I wantJ Now if you would rather link to your own blog I will read them there. So today you get to write flash fiction using one of the above defense mechanisms. The length and everything else is up to you. Remember if you post on your blog just put a link in the comment so I and others can check it out. This one is worth 2 entries as well. Have fun can’t wait to read them.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Defense Mechanisms Part 2:

Today we will start with the pathological defense mechanisms. Remember that these are extremes and do not generally happen. There is also the possibility that they happen in extreme circumstances under extreme duress.

Delusional projection: These are beliefs that are not true but the person believes in no matter what. They are held despite evidence against them, absolute conviction that they are true. Mac users come to mind J (All you Mac users know what I’m talking about)

Denial: The refusal to believe in external reality because of the extreme threat it poses to the person. Believing that something inevitable will not happen, I will never die.

Distortion: Reshaping of external stimuli to fit into own internal needs. These are irrational thoughts that a person may have about those things happening around them. My critique group doesn’t know what they are talking about. My story is wonderful. I’m sure I’ll get first place.

Splitting: Splitting is when we see things as being black or white. They think on the extreme, powerful or defenseless. We don’t see the continuum. We see people as good or evil we do not see them as a whole.

Here’s the challenge. Write a 50 word story or poem or something using one of these defense mechanisms and post below. You will receive two entries into the drawing for your stories and one for a comment. I will post mine tonight! And all you so called "non-writers" do it anyways it will be fun and a great mental exercise. Who knows you may even get hooked.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Defense Mechanisms Part 1

Defense Mechanisms are defenses the ego uses to protect the self. The ego uses these defense mechanisms when there is conflict with the super ego and the id. According to psychoanalytic theory they are unconscious behaviors.

When we become anxious and overwhelmed the ego steps in with certain defenses to protect self. It is important to understand that these are not always good defenses. The majority of people use good strategies to overcome difficult situations.

There are four categories that these defense mechanisms are placed. They are: Pathological, Immature, Neurotic and Mature. Pathological mechanisms are ways the ego uses to escape reality. We often view these people as being insane and crazy. Immature mechanisms are most frequently seen in adolescents. When seen in adults we view them as immature and undesirable to be around, in children it is considered normal behavior. Neurotic mechanisms are common in adults. They give short term benefits but often cause long term damage. Mature mechanisms are found in emotionally strong adults. These mechanisms provide support in short term and long term situations.

There are a lot of different defense mechanisms and over the next couple of weeks we will be going over them. I hope that this will help us in our ability to better understand the reactions that our characters have to difficult situations.

What do you already know about defense mechanisms?

Remember to sign up for the drawing coming up this Saturday. If you don’t comment on my 100 followers page you will not be entered into the contest. Comment here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Unconscious/Suppressed Memories

Remember yesterday our friends the ego, id, and super ego. Today we will explain how Freud saw them in our mind. The ego is the conscious part of our mind. It is what we are aware of.

The unconscious mind has two parts where the id and the superego reside. In Freud’s view the unconscious is not all things that are unconscious but just the things that have been repressed. They are the things that the ego has deemed necessary to be "forgotten" so that a person can survive.

So there is a kind of war that is going on between the conscious and the unconscious. The conscious tries to keep memories, feelings and thoughts repressed so that they do not disrupt our lives. On the other hand the id and the super ego are trying to be heard and are at times, which is why we have moments of disruption.

The idea from Freud’s perspective is that the unconscious must be made conscious and dealt with. There were two other people who revised this idea of the unconscious Carl Jung and Jacques Lacan. There is also a lot of debate around the idea of the unconscious mind and suppressed memories, whether they are fact or fiction.

Now how does this relate to writing? Many times our characters may act out of character. They may do things that they normally would not do, just like we do. One explanation of this would be to help the reader see that there are other things driving the character that the character does not realize, until later. A suppressed memory of seeing a person getting murdered or of being abused as a child or…. You get the picture.

How would you, or have you, written about suppressed thoughts and memories? How could you write about the unconscious and reveal it to the reader but not the character?

Don't forget to enter the contest here!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Id, Ego, Super Ego

Don't forget the contest you must put a comment here to sign up. You don't have to do anything to earn extra entries those are all optional. Also remember everyone is new to my blog so don't feel bad like you don't deserve it, because everyone deserves to win :)

Id, Ego, and super ego, what an amazing concept. The following is my interpretation of the Id, Ego, and Super Ego so feel free to disagree. (I may chastise you and tell you that you are wrong, floggings may follow and torture but don't worry it won't last long)

Id is the inner child of a person. It is the part of us that wants to feel good, it is the part of us that acts on the pleasure principle. It is the disorganized part of us. This part of us begins at birth.

The super ego is the part of us that is structured, follows rules relentlessly. The super ego aims for perfection. It is our conscious. The super ego represents our parents, teachers, religious leaders.

As you can see with the super ego and id there is constant conflict. It is a battle that rages within us as one tries to overcome the other. That is why there is also the ego. Without the ego nothing would get done.

The ego acts according to the reality principle. The ego tries to console the id while being rational and at times must mask reality for the id. (This leads us to the subconscious which we will discuss later.) It plays a balancing act of allowing the id to have pleasure but at the same time realizing that there must be order. It is being realistic about short term pleasure and long term goals. So it has a really tough job of serving three masters: the id, the super ego, and the outside world.

When creating our characters it is important to understand the inner conflicts the character is having and to help the reader see these inner conflicts. For example think of Boromir as he is trying to get the ring from Frodo. He loses control and is willing to do anything to get the ring (Id) afterwards he realizes what he has done and is crying, feeling as if he has ruined everything, no hope, in despair, hates himself (Super Ego). Finally at the end when he is dying and Strider is talking to him. He finds peace and realizes that there is hope and that he did not fail (ego). You see the ego balances the feelings of greed with the feeling of failure and self hate to gain a rational perspective and peace.

How do you write inner conflict? Is it important to have this inner conflict in the book? How can inner conflict help us show change in our characters?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Blog hop I Joined

I have never done this before so it should be fun!!

Friends Meetup Party - the perfect line