Bruce Feiler was diagnosed with a type of bone cancer rare in adults. Faced with the possibility of dying, Feiler immediately thinks of how he can communicate his feelings with his young twin girls. Feiler decides to reach out to his male friends and start what he calls a "council of dads." The purpose of the council of dads is to create a supportive network of father figures for his girls in case he should die. By forming the council of dads, Feiler was able to bond in meaningful ways with his friends, his wife, and his daughters. After years of chemotherapy and physical therapy, Feiler has been declared cancer-free but the council of dads changed his life and the lives of his friends in the process. He is less motivated by the fear of reprisal or negative emotional states than by the promise of deepening friendships, providing an emotional support system for his daughters, and learning about his friends and himself in the process. Motivated by the rewards of intimacy, friendship, and self-knowledge, Feiler's Behavior Activation System is most notable in his starting the council of dads for his twin girls. If he were to have withdrawn after the diagnosis or given up hope, then he would have been using the Behavioral Inhibition System.
Feiler scores high on openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness. He loves to travel, be outdoors, experience life to the fullest, and interact with people, indicating a strong sense of openness. Although his story does not include many examples of demonstrating conscientiousness because it is unclear what Feiler does for his career, Feiler's ability to organize his friends in the council of dads does show that he is both conscientious as well as extraverted. He was conscientious in forming the group and pursuing means by which to make the group and his family stronger. His reaction to the cancer was not to withdraw but to reach out, indicating extraversion. His interest in public speaking likewise demonstrates extraversion. On agreeableness, Feiler also scores relatively high Feiler is agreeable, but not submissive, evident by his interest in speaking about the feelings of others in his social circle. Although Feiler went through some painful and difficult emotions, he was able to handle those emotions in a capable and confident way rather than a neurotic way.
3. Based on his story, it would appear Feiler relies on the Behavioral Activation System more than the Behavioral Inhibition System. Feiler's willingness -- even eagerness -- to confront the difficult issues of his cancer and his possible ...
4. Feiler does not demonstrate a significant Need for Power, as he never seemed to have a power struggle with his cancer, let alone with other people. He never said anything about "conquering" cancer or other language that is suggestive of the Need for Power. On the other hand, Feiler enjoys sharing his power by working with other people and valuing their input. Feiler very much values the Need for Intimacy, which is why he started the council of dads and also speaks openly about the issue with doctors and with strangers in the Moth talk. Initimacy is what fuels Feiler, as he finds distinct reward in friendship. The public speaking engagements exhibit Feiler's Need for Achievement, but that need is not all-consuming because it is not as if Feiler talks about starting a foundation or global fund raising event. His main need is for intimacy.
5. In spite of being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness that also potentially threatened his ability to walk, hike, and travel, Feiler has a tendency toward Positive Emotionality and little tendency towards Negative Emotionality. Whereas many others would have succumbed to self-pity, anger, and depression, Feiler responded proactively and used his cancer to deepen friendships and relationships. Examples of positive emotionality include the speaker's liberal use of humor to convey discomfort, and his ability to respond to fear and worry with hope and constructive vulnerability as he reaches out to others. It is possible that Feiler went through some periods of despair, but those periods did not affect him or his loved ones in any distinct way. Rather, he was able to process the experience of even being unlucky enough to get a rare form of cancer.
He is less motivated by the fear of reprisal or negative emotional states than by the promise of deepening friendships, providing an emotional support system for his daughters, and learning about his friends and himself in the process. Motivated by the rewards of intimacy, friendship, and self-knowledge, Feiler's Behavior Activation System is most notable in his starting the council of dads for his twin girls. If he were to have withdrawn after the diagnosis or given up hope, then he would have been using the Behavioral Inhibition System.
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