Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Character Psychology

   
Author Topic: Character Psychology
ForlornShadow
Member
Member # 9758

 - posted      Profile for ForlornShadow   Email ForlornShadow         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have a character that grew up in a lab. Not as a researchers kid but as an actual experiment. My question concerns whether or not the character would be allowed emotion? She has access to researcher contact, contact with her four other siblings, a TV, radio, books, and games of sorts. But would growing up in a little white room effectively prevent her from feeling emotion?
Posts: 58 | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Osiris
Member
Member # 9196

 - posted      Profile for Osiris   Email Osiris         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think she'd still feel emotion. Emotion is something very primal (down to the genetics, IMO) and personally I don't see a sterilized environment negating that. The real question is what has this environment done to her emotions and how would she deviate from what is considered normal in our society? Would the researchers imprint as parents to her and would she treat them as such?
Posts: 1023 | Registered: Jul 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LDWriter2
Member
Member # 9148

 - posted      Profile for LDWriter2   Email LDWriter2         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Personally I don't think so. She may have some emotional confusion and depending on who raised her, she might have learned to hide or suppress her emotions but I believe she would still have them. She might be cold toward people she doesn't know even when they get hurt because she never learned to relate to others but the few people she knows. But that wouldn't mean no emotions.

No internet?

Posts: 4891 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Brendan
Member
Member # 6044

 - posted      Profile for Brendan   Email Brendan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It would all depend on the early researcher's contact. In WWII there was a group of orphaned babies that started dying for no reason. The nurses brought in volunteers to hold the babies (a radical move back then) and the deaths stopped. So the danger is, without the emotional feedback, and therefore the development of the emotional side of babies, they self select (in an evolutionary manner).

Now this is different from knowing how to express emotion in a culturally relevant manner. That needs immersion and training by parents. And as different cultures show, expressions of the emotional mix are accepted to different ways, to different benefits for those societies.

Posts: 766 | Registered: Aug 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MAP
Member
Member # 8631

 - posted      Profile for MAP           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don't understand why she would have no emotion. She interacts with other kids and a researcher. How she behaves will depend on how they treat her. If they are loving, she'll be loving. If they are cold and distant, she will be cold and distant. If they are abusive, she'll behave as a child who has been abused. If she is ignored or neglected, her development will be hampered.

I do remember from child psychology babies need stimili for development, but as long as there are book for her to look at and toys or things to play with, I don't think being raised in a room will effect her emotionally, except her ability to adapt to society if she ever gets out.

I think the question is do you want her to be unemotional and detached? That would depend on how she was raised not where she was raised.

Posts: 1081 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
naomisarah
Member
Member # 9843

 - posted      Profile for naomisarah           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think she would have a very difficult time processing normal emotions. I think she would be disconnected, but when vivid emotion hits, she would react much like a toddler: irrational, explosive and aggressive.
Posts: 17 | Registered: May 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rcmann
Member
Member # 9757

 - posted      Profile for rcmann   Email rcmann         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
In primitive societies with lousy transportation, which includes early America, children were usually raised in tiny societies with excruciatingly limited social contact. They had emotions. Definitely. Just look at all the wars.
Posts: 884 | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you haven't already, check out some of the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold featuring Sgt. Taura. She's a genetic construct that doesn't even particularly look human, but she has very human emotions.

The ones that come to mind are:
"The Labrynth" in which Taura (originally referred to just by a lab number) is introduced.

MIRROR DANCE

and "Winterfair Gifts"

Posts: 3933 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Harry Harlow (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Harlow) did research on this topic -- albeit with monkeys. You can read about it in the book "Love at Goon Park".

Harlow's experiments could not be done today, even on animals, but a kind of unintentional human experiment took place in grossly understaffed Russian orphanages after the fall of the Soviet Union (http://www.hrw.org/reports/pdfs/c/crd/russ98d.pdf). Catering to only *physical* needs led to severe social disorders (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_disorder).

While the conditions of these experiments are far more severe than those you describe, they bear on your question. Deprive a child of certain emotional stimuli and the child doesn't fail to develop emotion; he develops dysfunctional emotions. If you raised a child who was never allowed to stand or walk, he'd still have legs, they'd be non-functional legs. In rare cases where adults blind from birth have had their sight restored, they have physiological sight, but they can't make sense of it.

On the flip side, a very small amount of stimulus at the right time can work wonders. Children in dysfunctional families are at a statistical disadvantage, but often they grow up to be high-functioning, even healthy, thriving on a few rare and precious memories.

So I think your character would have emotions -- often surprisingly normal emotions, but would have emotional and intellectual deficits specific to the conditions of her upbringing. For example she might not be able to navigate outdoors, or even in a large building. She might have problems dealing with uncleanliness or disorder, or unsupervised social interactions, all leading to frustration.

I'd suspect she'd be a little on the Asperger's end of the spectrum. Having extensive interactions with researchers, she probably has a strong ability to deal with complex verbal data. Conversely having been raised in a highly controlled environment she may have trouble reading and expressing emotion; with social reasoning; especially with non-verbal communication. The kind of automatic, unscripted cooperation that occurs with "neurotypicals" might feel a little bit like telepathy to her. An interesting story idea that: maybe the reason we don't have telepathy is that we're all raised in deprived environments.

I expect she'd have a strong need to make her environment orderly, quiet and predictable.

Posts: 1347 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Seems to me a character defined as a human being raised in a Skinnerian Box would still be a human being and still have emotions...how these emotions are expressed, or if they're expressed, would depend on the storyteller...
Posts: 8273 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Crystal Stevens
Member
Member # 8006

 - posted      Profile for Crystal Stevens   Email Crystal Stevens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It seems to me if the characters are all human; if one human being is in contact with another human being, there will be emotional response of some kind. What kind of emotions that come forth will depend on the humans involved.
Posts: 1320 | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Natej11
Member
Member # 8547

 - posted      Profile for Natej11   Email Natej11         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This topic makes me think of "Ender's Game". Graff and Rackham are keeping Ender in the dark about what's going on, but the fact that Ender is commanding battles where Mazer's old friends are dying is causing Mazer to subconsciously display all the emotions he's trying to hide.

Even if the researchers were trying to raise her in a completely emotionless environment, they can't just shut off their own emotions, and emotions can be very hard to hide. Particularly concerning children, not only because children can be surprisingly perceptive about emotions, but also because adults often feel stronger emotions towards children.

If Japanese researchers are forming attachments to the humanoid robots they create to the point that when those robots are taken to hospitals for studies large numbers of engineers admit to missing them, how much stronger are any attachments going to be towards a child who's entirely in your care and trusts you unconditionally?

Posts: 603 | Registered: Mar 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Are the displays of emotions---not the emotions themselves, but how they're displayed---constant from culture to culture?

Speaking of Japan, I saw a writeup once that said the Japanese tend not to display certain emotions if they think someone's watching them...they secretly filmed people watching something disgusting in a film, and the reactions were definitely different between when they knew they were watched and when they thought they weren't...

Posts: 8273 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Are the displays of emotions---not the emotions themselves, but how they're displayed---constant from culture to culture?

Short answer: yes, at least as far as facial expressions are concerned. This is a longstanding question in psychology dating back to observations by Charles Darwin; it's fairly well established now that facial expressions for humor, happiness, anger, fear, and surprise are the same across all human cultures. Facial expressions for aggression are even somewhat standard across mammalian species (staring).

Long answer: it's more complicated than that. Different cultures, as you note, regard emotional expression differently, so basic facial expressions may be expressed more fully or largely suppressed. This may be moderated by different cultural tolerances for conflict and egalitarianism. Most Asian countries have Confucian attitudes toward age and authority, but whereas open conflict in Japan is taboo, hardball negotiation is perfectly normal in China and perhaps even more so in Korea. Actions that would be shockingly provocative in Japan are par for the course in other Asian countries.

It also seems likely that body language is culturally specific. Norms for things like polite distance and touching vary from culture to culture, and famously Italians use more hand gestures in communication than, say, Britons.

Posts: 1347 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Osiris
Member
Member # 9196

 - posted      Profile for Osiris   Email Osiris         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
An interesting exception to the universality of emotional expression is the case of disorganized schizophrenia. Not a cultural difference I know, but Those afflicted actually express inappropriate emotions given the situation. For example, laughing at a funeral, or crying at a joke.


I suspect that the most basic emotions, those tied to our basic needs (fight flight response, reproduction) are generally expressed the same universally. The stimuli that trigger those responses do vary greatly. Flattery that might offend someone in one culture could please someone in another.

Posts: 1023 | Registered: Jul 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ForlornShadow
Member
Member # 9758

 - posted      Profile for ForlornShadow   Email ForlornShadow         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
No internet?

Yes she has access to the internet.

Now here's another general question that I kind of want to get a feel for: How would she deal with betrayal by one of the people she grew up with? How would she react? Violently? Grief? Confusion?

Thanks for all of the feedback so far, it's a great help.

Posts: 58 | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LDWriter2
Member
Member # 9148

 - posted      Profile for LDWriter2   Email LDWriter2         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think that would depend on her personality. Grief for sure, probably confusion too but violence that would depend. Is she strong willed--a type A personality? It might also depend on what type of betrayal and why the person betrayed her.
Posts: 4891 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2