Spiral Dynamics and Storytelling

Location: Jepson 122
Date: Sat, April 27
Time: 2:05 PM - 2:25 PM

Combining Beck and Cowan's (1992) spiral dynamics developmental psychology theory and storytelling, this presentation explores how stories such as St. George and the Dragon, Lady and the Tramp, and Top Gun provide the cultural scrips necessary to move up the developmental spiral.


This presentation is an evolving idea of a project. Sparrowe (2005) introduced the idea that how an individual thinks of him or herself can be illustrated through narrative. It is how we make meaning of events that influences who an individual is and how he or she thinks about him or herself. Thus stories can be influential on our narrative-selves (Sparrowe). Narrative therapies have been developed to use storytelling to process psychological distress. Also considering culture is a mixture of ideas, institutions, interactions, and self-concepts (Markus & Conner, 2013), and that cultural scripts are the foundation for our concepts of what mental health looks like (V. Norasakkunkit, Gonzaga University class, Spring 2018), it is conceivable that storytelling can impact or developmental level. Beck and Cowan's (1992) work Spiral Dynamics presented a new take on developmental psychology and leadership. Beck and Cowan introduce the value-memes (vMEME) that describe the various developmental stages in human experience. Each vMEME has been assigned a color for convince. The theory illustrates each vMEME and describes the language and leadership styles that are best suited for thriving. No vMEME is better than another; however, there are healthy and unhealthy versions of each vMEME. The goal of the leader should be to foster healthy expressions of vMEMEs. In an intersection of spiral dynamics and storytelling, this presentation proposes the idea that storytelling can assist people in moving up the spiral. This presentation will look at three stories: St. George and the Dragon, Lady and the Tramp, and Top Gun to illustrate this idea.

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