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Crack throu the keekin gless: the story o stories an their importance

Stories is a important pairt o the human ken. Awbody sees an hears stories aw ower the place ilka day, in ilka society: whither it’s in beuks, in lessons or juist in ilkaday crack, stories is pairt o aw wir lifes.1 Sae whit gars stories sae important for human society?

Ae thing spells daes for us is that they forder wir uiss o imaigination by garrin us think an imaigine the chairacters, the plot an the settin o story. An imaigination is a gey an human skeel, a capacity that ither animals cannae uise like we can. Wir capacity tae imaigine the futur is ane o the raisons we maunt tae pit ower sae lang in Eastern Africa, an expand intae ither continents.

Creativity is sel-like, an connectit wi, imaigination: they ar baith verra human capacities that del intae the various possibilities o life. Creativity is a brawly important aspect o narrative.2 An creativity is forby ane o the weys tae actualise wir ettles in life. Sel-actualisation is ane o the psychological needs identified by Maslow. This is partícularly important for bairns’ psychological development whaur the need for imaiginative play is a indicator o success efter; in partícular, Nobel Prize winners dae mair creative play whan they war weans.

Sel-development is fordert by stories, acause they provide a wey o expressin unconscious desires an fears an a structur.3 The structur o stories is in the form o linear thocht. It is a realistic representation o time, a variable on whilk wir lifes is based.

Stories can be weys o haundlin emotions.4 It can forby whiles be a better wey o haundlin emotion than giein labels tae emotions.5 They can gie the readers or hearers a connection, whither personal or emotional, wi the author or wi the chairacters.

Stories can titch fowk emotionally, inspecially throu the chairacters: fowk can identify wi the chairacters or plot an compare that wi their ain experience; fowk can unnerstaund the situation the chairacters is in an empathise wi them; we can appreciate the importance o the ideas set oot in the story; we can unnerstaund the warld better wi the metaphors present, ideas, chairacters.

This can be a wey o connectin wi ither fowk, aften-times wi fowk ye’v niver met, ye niver will, an whiles even fowk ye niver can meet, acause o the fact they war tae the fore afore ye war born, or afore ye kent they existit. Acause fowk can identify wi the chairacters, they can hae therapeutic vailue. Stories can be forby weys o takkin wi an approbatin pairts o yersel.6

Stories gies meanin tae wir lifes7 an mak sense o wir lifes.8 This includes giein meanin tae the bygane times o wir lifes:9 it gies a narrative tae wir lifes, giein us a wey tae unnerstaund life. Deed, the feck o human knawledge is based on stories.10 Wir ideas o the past is shapit by the stories that relate tae it. Wir memories even can be shapit by wir stories anent them.11

Stories upsteers us intae upbiggin wir empathy, maist-times subconscious-like: for tae unnerstaund the chairacters, the decisions they tak, their craves an the situations in whilk they find theirsels, we need tae uise wir empathy. An this empathy skeels can then transpose on intae real life.

Stories reflect real life12 an can conteen compares wi ither stories. They can even conteen allegories. Allegories can be interpret as bein basically story-lang similes.13 Sae that is even mair complex compare’t wi reality.

Similes an metaphors is significant pairts o the wark o language as it eiks mair meanins tae a wird. It forby allous us tae mak comparisons acqueesh different aspects o wir reality, tae unnerstaund ae thing in terms o anither. In partícular, metaphors allous us tae see abstract ideas in terms o comparisons tae less abstract, mair concrete ideas.

Whan I wis a bairn, I uised tae think that scarraes wis wannecessar an that scarraes isnae leal tae the meanin o wirds. Thir days, I realise that it’s a significant, even peremptor, pairt o language. Whit gart me chynge ma mynd wis inspecially efter readin anent Conceptual Metaphors, a concept detailt in Woman, Fire and Dangerous Things by George Lakoff.14 Sae, hinderly, we can see that the feck o the wirds we uise in ony leid haes metaphors biggit intae them. Sicweys is symbolism an metaphor a major pairt o ony leid.

Stories, inspecially the maist epic lingelies, is lang and detailt expressions o thocht. An sae we can say they ar ensaumples o complete an complex discoorse.

As staps intae the warld o fiction, stories can be weys o takkin fowk on carrants, on vaiges, on ferds, tae places an times they hae niver been tae. Whiles, the anerly wey o pittin yersel intae the place o a partícular warld, inspecially, is tae read a beuk on it.

Stories can be weys tae pit forrit ideas, even ideas that isnae possible or even plausible, at least at the time o writin. For ensaumple, the’r mony ideas that wis in science fiction novels afore bein adoptit intae real life situations.

Stories (inspecially legends, whit the Shetlanders cry ‘stoil’) can be retelt wi variations. This allous for there practically bein a complouther o multiple vyces ower hunneryears, oot-throu history.

Tales that haes been modified ower the hunneryears, but is aye variants o the same tale, can be clessified: there is the Aarne–Thompson clessification sýstem for tales that can be consultit here.

Stories helps us wi wir memory: stories is a memorable wey tae learn life lessons on the tane haund, an history an facts on the tither.15

Stories aft-times plays a muckle pairt in mnemonics an ither memory techniques. Acause o wir naitur, us humans unnerstaunds things better whan they ar in story form. It haes even been said that wir memories haes their springheid in story form.16

Sae, in sum, we can say that stories is important for human society as it appluises us wi lang, linear expression o thocht for us tae haundle emotions an gie us meanin. An this helps us forder wir imaigination, memory an personality. It is forby a wey tae pit forrit ideas, that can be skared wi ithers.


aft-times frequently, oft-times; anent aboot; appluise make available to; approbatin accepting, validating; carrant an expedition; complouther a mixture; del delve, dig; ferd a journey, voyage; forby besides, in addition; gart compelled, made; hinderly eventually; lingelie a long-winded story, sermon, speech; maunt managed, succeeded in; on the tane haund on the one hand; peremptor imperative; scarrae a figure of speech, a metaphor; sicweys thus; skare share; spell a tale, story; springheid source, origin; upbiggin building up; upsteer stir up, rouse, incite; wannecessar unnecessary; whiles sometimes

  1. János László, The Science of Stories: An Introduction to Narrative Psychology (Routledge, 2008), 2
  2. The Science of Stories: An Introduction to Narrative Psychology, 3
  3. The Science of Stories: An Introduction to Narrative Psychology, 10
  4. The Science of Stories: An Introduction to Narrative Psychology, 9
  5. Margot Sunderland, Using Story Telling as a Therapeutic Tool with Children (Taylor & Francis, 2017)
  6. Kedar Nath Dwivedi, The Therapeutic Use of Stories (Routledge, 2006), 16
  7. Jodi O’Brien, The Production of Reality: Essays and Readings on Social Interaction (Pine Forge Press, 2006)
  8. The Science of Stories: An Introduction to Narrative Psychology, 3
  9. Michael Erben, Biography and Education: A Reader (Routledge, 2005)
  10. The Science of Stories: An Introduction to Narrative Psychology, 7
  11. The Science of Stories: An Introduction to Narrative Psychology, 8
  12. The Science of Stories: An Introduction to Narrative Psychology, 3
  13. The Story-Shaped World: Fiction and Metaphysics: Some Variations on a Theme, Brian Wicker (Bloomsbury, 1975, 2013)
  14. George Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things (University of Chicago Press, 2008)
  15. János László, The Science of Stories: An Introduction to Narrative Psychology (Routledge, 2008), 2
  16. The Therapeutic Use of Stories, 22