storymind.jpg (11001 bytes)
Hidden in the dramatic structure of stories is a model of the mind...



Story Mind Basics

The Minds of Men & Women

How to Solve Problems

A Model
of the Mind

The Math Behind the Model

of Mental Relativity

The Mental Relativity Tapes

Press Coverage of the Story Mind

Letters & Replies



Indicators of Justification

by Melanie Anne Phillips

Justification functions in a manner similar to sensory perception. When a sensory nerve is stimulated, the nerves around it become numbed so that the apparent stimulation is made more distinct. When a sensory nerve is numbed, the nerves around it become more sensitive to pick up the slack. Similarly, when a justification causes one to become sensitive to a stimulation, the surrounding thoughts and feelings become numbed in order to mask (and thereby protect) the sensitivity. If justification causes one to become numbed to a particular kind of stimulation, the thoughts and feelings around this area become overly sensitive, tending to cause reactions that redirect the stimulation from the numbed (blinded) area.

Both of these techniques can aid in survival. If becoming sensitized to a particular stimulation (such as the howl of a dangerous predator) is useful, then numbing the area around that stimulation makes it stand out from the background noise by gating out any similar distractions leaving the field clear for that particular pattern. If becoming numbed to a particular stimulation (such as crickets chirping or a clock ticking) is useful because it cuts down on background noise, then over stimulating the area around the desensitized area compensates for the missing attention, warning one that a similar, potentially dangerous pattern is present that might be ignored because it is so close to the numbed area.

When one become aware of a causal relationship in which a precursor always (or frequently) portends trouble, one becomes sensitized in the surrounding areas. In a sense, the precursors are "rubbed raw" by excessive irritation connected with negative stimulations to come. In contrast, if an ongoing irritation is not preceded by a causal warning, the irritation builds up a blister or scab around it due to repeated stimulation. As a result, the area around the sensitivity becomes numbed. Causal relationship justifications are temporal in nature because they anticipate the future. Continuous irritation justifications are spatial in nature because they respond to the immediate situation.

When someone is temporally justified, they react strongly when conversations, actions or events begin to approach the irritation area. People justified in this way will lash out on all kinds of issues in seemingly unrelated categories because the real connection is how many touch points these categories have with the overly sensitive area. For example, if as a child Jane was scared on several occasions by red fire engines, she may become sensitive to fast cars, the color red, loud siren like noises, or the smell of smoke. But even more, if it was windy on most of the days she was scared by the fire engine than she may become afraid or wind. If her mother was with her and happened to be wearing the same coat that was hardly ever worn, Jane might develop an aversion to tweed. The random encroachment of chaos into the periphery of repeated experience can produce subjective causal relationships that do not truly exist.

Causal justifications do not necessarily require repeated irritation (exposure). If a single event is so powerful or all-effecting that multitudes of irritations are created in a single "flash" moment, then the same kinds of odd relationships may be mapped into the mind, dragged in as causal relationships even though based on but a single instance.

When someone is spatially justified, they become apathetic or disinterested when the irritation area is approached. People justified in this way will change the subject of conversation will have little interest in what are seemingly unrelated areas. Only if the source of irritation can be discovered does a pattern of connection appear. For example, if John was often beaten with a belt by his drunken father, he might have little or no interest in drinking or wearing belts. But he also might be disinterested riding horses because they are whipped, wear suspenders, not enjoy office parties where drinking is going on, and find no pleasure in drawing (because he was often sketching when his father came in to beat him).

Being disinterested in sketching because it was associated with a negative stimulation is not the same as becoming sensitized to it. If John were sensitized, he would react in a strongly negative way to sketching because he would see it as one of the triggers that caused his beating. That would be a causal or temporal justification. But if sketching simply carries a negative stigma by association, then he simply loses interest in it without a causal connection.

It becomes clear that our areas of diminished interest are created to steer us from dredging up past irritations, whereas areas of enhanced sensitivity are created to help us avoid future recurrences of past irritations.

The forms described above deal only with irritations When one becomes sensitive it is a form of Negative Reinforcement wherein an existing condition (that might reoccur) is relieved by engaging in a particular (preventative) behavior. When one becomes desensitized it is a form of self Punishment, in which one does not allow oneself to enjoy things not really connected with the irritation but reminiscent of it. When one punishes another, it a means of shifting the inequity from oneself to the "offending" party. But when one punishes themselves, it is a means of dispersing pain so it doesn't hurt too much in any one place.

From this point, the mechanisms dealing with pleasures, as opposed to irritations, is accessible, leading to sensitivities that are Positively Reinforced and desensitizations which are rewards. We can see that in everyday life, an elevated interest in a hobby or career can indicate an expectation of obtaining pleasures based upon ones experiences or expectations. Positive Reinforcement is just as much in play if one only anticipates something good as when one has actually seen the activity lead to something good.

For desensitization, when one rewards another it is a means of bringing more pleasure to oneself because the other party is more likely to continue the desired behavior. When one rewards themselves, they desensitize the area around the pleasure so that not only is the pleasure itself made greater by local contrast, but also so one will not become completely prone to immediate gratification. Through the mind's placement of desensitized areas around primary pleasures, a threshold is introduced that requires a catalyst to bridge. Ideally, the catalyst is obtained by engaging in forward thinking survival activities, leading to such things as the American Work Ethic, and putting dessert at the end of the meal.

Copyright Melanie Anne Phillips

Brought to you by

Owned and Operated by the Creator of StoryWeaver & Co-Creator of Dramatica
Serving more than 12,000 writers since 1997

Get the Writer's Survival Kit Bonus Package
FREE with ANY Purchase!

Writing Software Buyer's Guide
About Our Store

 We'll Beat ANY Price!
     90 DAY Return Policy

Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000 Movie Magic Screenwriter
List price: $269.95
Your price: $179.23
Academic: $99.95)
Storyweaver Software-<br>Your Step-by-Step<br>Guide to a Complete Story!
Step by Step Story Development Software

Just $29.95
Dramatica Pro 4.0<br>Story Development<br>Software Dramatica Pro 4
Story Development

List price: $269.95
Your price: $179.23
Academic: $99.95)
20 hour Writing<br>Course on CD ROM<br>featuring Dramatica 20 hour Writing
Course on CD ROM
featuring Dramatica

Dramatica Tips & Tricks Book Dramatica Tips & Tricks Book
Dramatica Software<br>Companion CD ROM Dramatica Software
Companion CD ROM

Dramatica Writers DreamKit 4.0 Dramatica Writers DreamKit 4
Hollywood Screenwriter Hollywood Screenwriter
Final Draft 7 Screenwriting Software
List price: $249.00
Your price: $199.47
Academic: $129.42)
Power Structure
Story Development

List price: $269.00
Your price: $159.95
Power Writer
List price: $159.95
Your price: $99.95
How to Create
Great Characters
Online Workshop

How to Create
Great Characters
DVD Video
How to Make Your Movie
An Interactive Film School

List price: $89.95
Your price: $49.95
The Dramatica Theory<br>2 hour audio program The Dramatica Theory
2 hour audio program

$59.95 & Up
Master Storyteller:<br>Improve your<br>Writing Skills! Master Storyteller:
Improve your
Writing Skills!

The Story Mind:<br>Structure Vs. Passion The Story Mind:
Structure Vs. Passion

20 hour Writing<br>Course on CD ROM<br>featuring Dramatica StoryWeaving Seminar
In Person - $199.95
Online Video - $99.95
Dramatica Theory Book Writing with
the Story Mind
1 hour audio program

Writing Characters<br>of the Opposite Sex Writing Characters
of the
Opposite Sex
2 Hour Plot Class<p>Learn how to<br>plot your story! 2 Hour Plot Class
Learn how to
plot your story!

Mental Relativity Book: The Psychology Behind Dramatica Mental Relativity Book: The Psychology Behind Dramatica
Dramatica Pro 4.0<br>Story Development<br>Software Mastering
Dramatica Pro
Online Workshop


Prefer to order by Mail or Fax?
Click here for information.

Questions? Email

We'll beat ANY Advertised Price! REALLY! 
AND, if you see a lower price within 30 days of purchase
we'll refund the difference!

90 Day Full Money-Back Guarantee!
Return item within 90 days for a complete refund
of your original purchase price!

Get the Writer's Survival Kit & Sampler FREE
with ANY Purchase!

StoryWeaving Seminar
Join the creator of StoryWeaver & co-creator of Dramatica
for a two-day writing & story development seminar
Click here for details!

Visit the best writers' site on the web:

storymindad.gif (9491 bytes)

Subscribe to the
Writing Tip Newsletter!

Available at the Storymind Store:

Software for Mind Analysis & Problem Solving

Dramatica Pro

Dramatica DreamKit


Mental Relativity: The Story Mind


Mental Sex

Products for writers based on the Story Mind Theory


Dramatica Software Companion CD ROM

20 Hour Dramatica Course on One CD ROM!

Dramatica Theory Basics 2-hour CD Set

Writing with the Story Mind CD


Dramatica Tips & Tricks Book

Dramatica Theory Book