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?