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on memories, hysteria, and writing

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Dear Reader,

I’m reading STUDIES ON HYSTERIA, by Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer. This week we talked about influences, creating characters, physically feeling what these creatures we create and read about feel, and we talked about the effects of narratives in our lives.

Psychology books are one of these good influences for me when I’m building my characters. I know that observing other people is one of the core ingredients for writing good characters, but reading and borrowing fractions of aspects observed by psychologists is not a bad idea if you want to improve your process.

Of course, you should always avoid copying or using these works as a checklist and just assuming that every character with a specific disorder, for example, will act the same, or that you should use things like archetypes in their pure form to build characters.

That’s not how it works, to me, I believe that doing that leads to creating caricatures or stereotypes. Not characters. Use hints instead that will guide your process to add these little observations more like ornaments and less like dressing your character with that. You know what I mean?

In STUDIES ON HYSTERIA, I’m looking for specific aspects and hints on the effect of memories in the physical body. The conversion of traumas into physical transformations. And how the memories of the patients observed in this book were affected by their traumas.

I read this morning: “At first it appears extraordinary that experiences long past should have such an intense effect, that the memories of them should not be subject to the same process of erosion to which, after all, we see all of our memories to come.”

I like Freud because I love how his books are clear and how they read like literature, and I’m not interested in the theories that refute his conclusions. I know there’s many, and I would enter a rabbit hole if I started digging it. So, like I said, I’m just interested in nuances…

Writing.

Best,
João

■ PS: Have you ever read any book by Freud? What do you think about using psychology books in general to improve your character development process?

☕️ via @beardbetweenthelines

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