Literature As Psychology Term Paper

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Psychology and Literature

Both psychology and literature explore how people interact with each other. Both psychology and literature explore how prior events affect what follows. Both psychology and literature look at how a person grows, develops and changes over time. However, psychology looks at how events affect what people do and how they act in very precise ways, while literature fictionalizes and supposes what an imaginary person might do. Psychology looks at growth and development based on real cases studied scientifically while literature uses imagination go suppose what people might do as they develop. Psychology looks at how people react in given situations in a scientific way, while literature looks at it in terms of how the events drive a story forward.

Examples of how social-psychological issues are portrayed in literature can be seen, for instance, in the stories of Edgar Allen Poe, such as in "The Cask of Amontillado," where the protagonist wreaks vengeance on a friend for imagined slights. It might be considered a fictional study of paranoia.

Bibliotherapy, or reading books to enhance personal understanding of self, can have a place in psychotherapy. Some books contain insights into why people act as they do as well as how our choices can have unintended negative consequences. It would not replace therapy but could give client and therapist a frame of reference from which to discuss some issues.

In the book East of Eden, people have to choose between doing the right thing or doing the wrong thing. One character, Cal, learns that he can actively choose good over evil, but Cathy/Kate, while she has freedom to choose, repeatedly makes poor choices and remains a negative character. She does not grow morally, but Cal does. In therapy, this book might be used to help a client learn to predict the consequences of his or her actions and to recognize that the behaviors we exhibit are choices, and that the person can change the choices he or she makes.

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