Tag Archives: soul

What’s at the Core of Character Development?

Some posts I make are informative and useful and some are just the rambling inside my head type posts that may or may not be of interest to anyone else. This is one of the latter.

 

Luckily, I managed to breeze through my CEUs and finished them up over the weekend. That surprised me after seeing the material I had to cover. I only missed one question out of six test modules. It was one on domestic violence concerning House Bill 1099. It was a trick question.

 

Admittedly, it made me feel pretty good to ace these tests. It affirmed my professional expertise.

 

Monday, I took up some research for a project that’s still in the planning stages. I’ve been re-reading Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Thomas Harris, and a barrage of scientific journal articles on paranormal psychology.

 

Although I am a scientist, I’ve always been interested in parapsychology. For several years of my career, I worked in psychiatric nursing in both crisis stabilization and in a forensics unit that managed the criminally insane and the incarcerated. I’ve seen some really weird things occur in the spiritual realm (not scientifically explainable). I’ve also had personal experience with clairvoyant dreams/nightmares.

 

With the medical model of psychiatry, so much has been scientifically explained through the understanding of neurotransmitters. These are endogenous chemicals that transmit signals across a synapse from one neuron (nerve cell) to another ‘target’ neuron. Their exact numbers are unknown but more than 100 chemical messengers have been identified.

 

Pharmacology and chemistry have worked hand-in-hand to learn the mechanisms of action and create drugs, primarily those that affect monoamines like: dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, histamine and serotonin, which have profound effects on the brain, mood, personality and behavior.

 

Millions of people who would have otherwise been crippled by brain anomalies have received treatment that resulted in them being able to live productive lives. The organic component of human behavior can be changed with mind altering drugs. This organic, or biological, aspect is just one component of who we are. In nursing, my training program was a biopsychosocial model that considers three dimensions. The brain and the mind are considered separately.

 

In considering the mind, one dimension is spirit. Humans are spiritual by nature. Apart from all theological considerations the human spiritual capacity is wondrous indeed. As elusive as its definition, the human spirit includes our intellect, emotions, fears, passions, and creativity.

 

In the two most widely accepted contemporary definitions, human spirit and psyche are considered to be the mental functions of awareness, insight, understanding, judgment and other reasoning powers, entities of emotion, images, memory and personality.

The soul is the self, the “I” that inhabits the body and acts through it.

The soul can be the essence or embodiment of a specified quality, like the soul of a piece of composed music. It is also an immaterial part of a human being, regarded as immortal.

I didn’t set out to write a dissertation on the human spirit and soul, but was seriously considering character development. So often, I read in reviews that characters are one dimensional or not fully developed, and I was pondering over what exactly makes a character well-rounded, fully developed. The ones who stay with us, that we remember forever, that never die, are the ones who have soul. The author has managed to make them immortal. They have awareness, insight, understanding, judgment and other reasoning powers, entities of emotion, images, memory and personality. They will live on long after their authors are gone.

It takes time and words to create spirit and soul in a character. In this day of fast food, fast everything, readers want both. They want fast action and character development. I’ve read tons of character development posts advising people on how to draw up their character profiles, and while there are hundreds that speak to character traits and appearances, few speak to the soul of the character.

The “I” that inhabits the body and acts through it is the most important feature of character development, whether endearing or wicked. This “I” is at the core of character development.

In metaphysics, the “I” is the ego, a conscious, thinking subject, the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity, self-awareness.

I thought of Scarlett, Hannibal, Merlin, Lastat and Louise, Pennywise, Rowan Mayfair, Odd Thomas, Jane Eyre, Chablis, Jack Torrance, James and Catskinner, Ryan Lemmon, Bilbo Baggins, Catherine and Heathcliff…I could go on and on, but the point is that these characters all have soul, good or bad. They have been richly developed so as to be unforgettable. They think and they act. They aren’t characters that I particularly relate to, but they have an admirable depth. They aren’t simply entertaining, but embody complex psyche that penetrates deeply making them memorable.

When you read, do you get invested into the spirit of your characters?

When you write to tell your stories do you consider spirit of the characters?

Can you name some unforgettable characters that had soul?

Medication Holiday and Why I Can’t Go There

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I made an announcement a week, or so, ago. My plan was to take a medication holiday from a mood disorder meds I have been on and off of since the age of nineteen. My courage has left me.

In the past, I was taken off meds to process through my education, or to carry my children. The meds slow thought processes (a compromise to learning new things), along with body metabolism. There is a numbing down of emotion and with that a deep and cutting loss of the ability to feel.

Being an extremely empathetic person, the loss of the ability to feel is not necessarily a bad thing. It does, however, pose limits to the experience of emotion. Sometimes those limits are good. Rage is in check. Anger is minimized. But so is joy, and happiness. On the meds, there is a numb sort of existence devoid of any extremes. Without the extremes, I made an excellent nurse for more than thirty years. I have a portfolio of commendations. Until the emotions began to bleed through due to stress.

I witnessed and contested some serious abuse and neglect in a pediatric long-term residential facility I was working in and up against a huge and powerful corporation and a gang of despicable people. Some of the abuse resulting in loss of limb or death. It was a two year battle. The place is closed now, if it’s any consolation.

I wrote a long and thoughtful post last evening but did not publish it.

I was recalling all of the times that I have gone over the edge and what happened. They were exciting times, filled with emotion, creative energy, and productivity. I had volumes of imaginative, expressive, original writing. I painted gorgeous pictures in oils and water colors, made fascinating jewelry, and had nearly a hundred ceramic creations that I ultimately smashed against my plaster walls in a fury.

You see, therein lies the problem.

At the end of any one of those glorious manic episodes of profound self-discovery and accomplishment were days and weeks filled with hallucinations, delusions, isolation, darkness and despair. It was frightening…no, it was horrifying. The crash that eventually came caused me to either fight the ones closest to me, or to fall into catatonia so deep that my soul wasn’t present anymore. The depressive loss of the spiritual self so profound that I not only didn’t care whether I lived or died, I didn’t even know if I was alive or dead.

Say I am exercising good judgment to stay on my meds.

Say I’m a coward for not being willing to try.

Can I live in constant state of fight or flight?

I don’t want to know.

The torment of sanity can be worse than insanity.

I’m just afraid of going over the edge and not being able to get back.

There is some sweet sorrow in the fact that the meds make me better controlled.

 

Dreams of Love by Pamela Blog Tour

dreamsoflovecover

Description: Poetry is an expression from deep within the soul. It can be therapeutic and healing. It can bring out all the best or the worst in life. Her poetry comes from the heart, not the head. It is an outpouring of emotion and she exposes it to reader in the pages.

Various poetry forms are explored: free verse, tanka (5-7-5-7-7), doidotsu (7-7-7-5) and etheree (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10).

Dreams of Love

Dreams of you and me
Together in ev’ry way
Your lips pressed to mine
Assuring me of your love
Dreams of love eternally

Purchase here!

pamelaPamela began writing poetry in just the last year. She is a nonprofit executive by day and spends her hours trying to be sure that everyone has a chance for a good life. Pamela is passionate about her job and it spills over into her writing. Dreams of Love is her debut poetry collection. Pamela feels that poetry can be very personal but invites you into her soul as you read her poems.

Visit the Author!

Poetry by Pamela
Year ‘Round Thanksgiving Project

Soul Cycle

Fields of amber swaying in the breeze
At a child’s eye height memory of tops dancing
How fast it grew being knee high in spring
Summer passed so quickly gone
Did not see it growing there so green
So long and lush blooming in a blink
Topped out rustling fruits brushing
Against one another sun parched
Wrinkles out its seeds withering
In the heat with age fading soul
Turns gray and returns to earth
Barren deceivingly so for a season
Peeps its offspring through the frost
Green tendrils seeking for a glimpse of sun
For the sake of repeating itself in
Fields of amber swaying in the breeze

~ S. K. Nicholls 1986

Photo by Miriadna.com

I copied this from an earlier post of mine, because I wanted a sunny picture on my site today.

Book Review: A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

A Dirty Job

This novel by Christopher Moore attempts to combine fantastical characters and outrageous situations with some very realistic observations of families coping with a dying loved one.  I am not entirely certain that the author was completely successful in accomplishing this.  There was some deeply sincere discussion of hospice and the tragedy of loss, but the book really jumped over the edge of being ridiculous.

When I first started to read it I felt as if I were being drawn into a standard Twilight Zone-like version of the “Death Merchant” and the main character, Charlie, a beta male, was just another grim reaper.  As I read further, I was delightfully surprised as Christopher Moore’s characters came to life…even the Morrigan, evil creatures that live in the sewers of San Francisco, and the squirrel people, bazaar as they were.

I read this about a month ago and was waiting to see how my book club members felt about the book before I posted.  I think I can safely say that you will love it or you will hate it.  I personally loved it.  Some of my book club members got into some really heavy philosophical discussion on theology and the metaphysical that I really did not feel that the book warranted.  That a soul could occupy an inanimate object really seemed to bother some.   I feel that the author, with his nutty characters like Lily, the goth girl, Minty Fresh, the pimp, the Emperor, and others, did not intend the book to be anything more than humorous entertainment with a touch of horror and emotion.  In that regard he was more than successful.

My only disappointment was in the ending.  I like to be surprised and I wasn’t.  I sort of figured out what was likely to happen early in the book when the hellhounds were introduced.  There was another aspect to the ending that I was sort of disappointed in, but I’ll let you figure that out.

I would give this book a five star rating, because I was one of the 50% who really liked it.  I would certainly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys an easy read of contemporary fantasy.

Soul Cycle

Fields of amber swaying in the breeze
At a child’s eye height memory of tops dancing
How fast it grew being knee high in spring
Summer passed so quickly gone
Did not see it growing there so green
So long and lush blooming in a blink
Topped out rustling fruits brushing
Against one another sun parched
Wrinkles out its seeds withering
In the heat with age fading soul
Turns gray and returns to earth
Barren deceivingly so for a season
Peeps its offspring through the frost
Green tendrils seeking for a glimpse of sun
For the sake of repeating itself in
Fields of amber swaying in the breeze

~ S. K. Nicholls 1986

Photo by Miriadna.com