Blog Review: FABLE – Fictional Autobiography of Life Experience

iStock_000007681910SmallThe blog reviewed here is ‘FABLE‘ an acronym for ‘Fictional Autobiography of Life Experience’. I first came across the blog via the author Cole Bitting’s Twitter profile after exchanging a few messages with him on Twitter. So here are the results of my look at the blog….

Appearance and Design

The title pane consists of the blog title with an effective shadow effect on a woody background. The main background is a slightly off-black colour (i’m not particularly good at naming some of these subtle shades of colouring!) with white text. Individual articles are demarcated by a white dotted line at the end of each post. The reader can navigate by selecting the page numbers at the very bottom of the page. On the left hand side there is a link to a descriptions of songs that Bitting refers to in the text. There is an About section in the title pane and on the left hand pane there are links to an RSS feed as well as links to Web 2.0 resources such as Twitter. There are also occasional images that complement the text.

Articles

The first article is dated 28th September 2009. In this first article, Bitting tells us about fables and our relationship with them. Within this first article Bitting also tells us of the high regard in which he holds Damasio’s work ‘The feeling of what happens. Body, emotion and the making of consciousness’. I, like many people have found Damasio’s writing accessible and extremely interesting and used this in the foundations for the building of a model of the role of the Insular Cortex in emotional regulation as Damasio’s work has influenced people such as Craig in his development of a model of the Insular cortex (see here). In the second article, which is philosophical in nature, Bitting produces one of the statements which will feature again in the blog – the distinction between what is useful and what is truthful. As I understand it, Bitting is arguing that when a narrative is formed does not necessarily represent an underlying truth but instead relates to utility. In this ‘Perspective: Objectify Yourself, Witness Life’ article, Bitting discusses some foundations for the neurobiology of first person perspective and what I found really interesting here was his use of triangle and inverted triangle symbols for concepts creating an effective symbolic shorthand. In ‘Open Up, Confront the Fury’, parts 1 and 2 (of a 3-part essay – with the final part not published at the time of writing) Bitting looks at how writing can be an effective means for confronting and managing disturbing emotions (in psychodynamic terms this is equivalent to sublimation). However this is quite thematic in Bitting’s writing.

Summary

If I were to summarise Bitting’s writing, I would characterise an underlying theme of exploring the neurobiology of narrative therapy using Damasio’s works as a foundation for this process. However, Bitting himself has an elegant style of writing with emotional depth and so the reader is able to enjoy his writing on another level while exploring what is a fascinating area of inquiry.

Twitter

You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link

Podcast

You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast).

Responses

If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk

Disclaimer

The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

13 thoughts on “Blog Review: FABLE – Fictional Autobiography of Life Experience

  1. Cole Bitting

    Thanks for such a well done review. I feel flattered and grateful.

    Damasio, on p 178 of The Feeling of What Happens, uses the triangles that I use. When I studied this chapter “The Making Of Core Consciousness,” I understood these triangles to represent language in the classic Chomskian sense – it’s combinatorial, regessive and can express the infinite range of human mental experience.

    My background is more evolutionary biology than anything. I believe evolution is highly efficient and economy – it co-opts systems to encompass broader capabilities. I assume for the purposes of my own writing, that Damasio’s triangle-sentence is the structure of experience. Body-as-it-was, object, body-as-it-is. So I reduce everything to this powerful system of language.

    Language is the primary tool for virtually all forms of therapy. An important quality of well-being and resilience is our autobiographies. Pennebraker’s study, to me, is a powerful endorsement to the value of language in a process of resilience and well-being.

    I have highly reductive tendencies, and then conflate the potency of these ideas (and others) into my writing. Reduce then conflate is a recipe for losing track so I also try to continually reference new literature.

    My next piece is a consequence my reference tendency. Part 3 of Furies was to be about the neuroscience of a narrative approach to confronting disturbing emotions. I found too many discussions of the lateralization of emotion vague. So I dug around, and now found a valuable concept in the literature which clarifies and expands on one of my thoughts about confronting disturbing emotions (BIS/BAS + Dominance .. Demarree et al 2005).

    My approach is directed more to issues of resilience and well-being. For therapists and psychiatrists who help people with on-going mental-health challenges, I hope they find some insight than they can relate to the way they practice.

    Damasio describes three gifts of consciousness – perspective, ownership and agency. The language of consciousness starts in the body. So to me, resilience, well-being and therapy should start with observing the body. From there, the best tools are the ones which accentuate the qualities of perspective, ownership and agency.

    As we push these qualities into the narrative of our autobiography, we create Fables and find the nuggets of wisdom that lie inside even the most dark tales. To me, autobiography describes the discovered wisdom from our life experience.

    I discuss narrative and language, but implicit in my discussion is the quality of being mindful of the dance of emotions in the body. From the body, by reducing and conflating, I write myself all they way to the most enduring sense of self. Wish me luck.

    Your review was potent enough to get me to confess the hidden story behind my blog – FABLE. I opened up and feel much better.

    Like

  2. Dr Justin Marley Post author

    Thanks for the post and it’s a privilege to hear the interesting and deep story behind your blog. Evolutionary psychiatry is an emerging area while evolutionary psychology has begun to make a mark and it is a fascinating area of study. Working this in with narratives is particularly interesting and towards the end of your comment, I started to think back to a podcast episode that I had reviewed on Jungian Analysis this time focusing on the analysis of fairy tales – https://theamazingworldofpsychiatry.wordpress.com/2009/08/01/podcast-review-betts-on-jungian-analytic-psychology-19/
    I’m sure this will all be tied up with evolutionary psychology/psychiatry at some point and if you have any ideas in this area let me know – it would make for a useful discussion. Regards Justin

    Like

  3. Pingback: Blogs Reviewed to Date « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  4. Pingback: Interview with Cole Bitting « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

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