Emotional Disorders and Fictional Stories – Four Viewpoints Travelled

External fictional stories mimic how your internal emotional system works. When your mind travels through a fictional story, in a book or at the movies, it shifts you through four viewpoints without your being consciously aware of it.

The four viewpoints you travel through when going through an external story or an internal emotional journey are:

  • the Objective viewpoint
  • the Subjective viewpoint
  • the Acceptable viewpoint arguing for the ‘acceptable’ solution (which you believe will lead to mental and emotional Congruence)
  • the Unacceptable viewpoint arguing for the ‘unacceptable’ solution (which you currently believe is the cause of your mental and emotional Ambivalence).

If you are consciously aware of the journey through these viewpoints when observing an external story you are probably either a student of fictional story structure, a critic, or feel the writer of the fictional story is not very good at their job. To get full enjoyment from a fictional story you need to be carried along and willing to ‘suspend your disbelief’ long enough to travel the story journey as if it were real.

If you are struggling with an emotional disorder, however, the reverse is the case. You need to be consciously fully aware of these four viewpoints in order to stop the negatively charged internal stories currently running you. They may have the power of conveying a sense of reality but the truth is they are nothing more than emotionally charged internal stories. You need to become writer of your own internal experience to heal from them.

A person with a phobia or obsession is being dominated by an incomplete story running through their body. The only thing you need do in order to complete such an internal story is travel through the four viewpoints enough times in order to fully discharge the emotional energy attached to it. Unfortunately this is not a simple mental exercise – it is a very difficult physical experience.

The most effective way to travel through these viewpoints is to begin discharging the energy (not by trying to think your way out of it). Shifts in viewpoint are created this way – through ‘feeling’. In order to do this you take your conscious point of focus into the centre of your feelings much like you would first have to go to a cinema if you intended to watch a movie.

Just a caveat here – make sure you have a professional support network in place (eg doctor; counsellor) before you decide you are going to start going towards your inner internal negatively charged stories. When working on internal stories not only do you watch your own ‘movie’ you also play all the characters involved at the emotional level.

We enjoy fictional stories, and other similar external journeys, because they mimic the full experiential path we follow when we produce and release an emotional response in relation to a real or imagined triggering event. External fictional stories allow us to do this while staying in control of how emotionally involved we become with their theme.

Think of a fictional story you really enjoyed. You enjoyed it more than others due to the degree of emotional satisfaction you gained. The story built your emotional responses up (with your co-operation) and then provided the means for emotional release by story end.

We deliberately avoid external fictional stories where we judge they will either produce no emotional content for us whatsoever or they will produce emotions so intense we will not be able to release our response by story end.

Unfortunately when dealing with a trapped and incomplete internal stories they are usually the kinds of story we would not wish to observe in the outside world.

Let us take a closer look at the four viewpoints now, but as we do I would like you to keep in mind – I just realised this while writing and it may do your head in a bit – we will travel through the four viewpoints while looking at the four viewpoints. It is holographic in nature, this viewpointy thingy.

The Objective Viewpoint

The Objective Viewpoint is the most peaceful viewpoint of the four – you feel emotionally neutral here – when you do not feel peaceful here it is because you have tipped over into the Subjective Viewpoint.

The Objective Viewpoint actually appears twice in the viewpoint cycle – at the beginning and after the cycle is completed – so we could say there are actually five viewpoints with the first viewpoint being the pre-story Objective Viewpoint and the fifth viewpoint being the post-story Objective Viewpoint.

In the post-story Objective Viewpoint you have completed the external or internal story journey and the overall Objective Viewpoint has been changed.

The Objective Viewpoint has you sitting on a hill looking down on the story battle ground like a proud military general. As you watch the different characters below struggling to fight it out you have a current opinion of who should win and who should lose based on moral arguments – in fictional stories main characters act as representatives of arguments in a theme (in internal emotional turmoil you are struggling with these arguments in the state known as ambivalence).

You are distanced from events. As the story unfolds you develop a logically stepped understanding of the whole picture and are able to work with expectancy in regard to what should happen next to the characters and arguments involved..

You may understand the motivations of each side of the argument but you know one of the arguments has to surrender its hold and the other must win. If this is not achieved in an external fictional story you expect to see a sequel ensuring it is later – or you class the story as a bad story.

If this story completion does not happen in regard to an internal emotional story you remain stuck in crippling tension until it does. You are emotionally blocked.

With fictional stories you sit in judgement at the end as to whether or not the outcome was appropriate given the different paths of cause and affect. If you find the story outcome does not match your current moral framework you change your framework or again judge the story a bad story.

When you have an internal, unresolved emotional issue you believe just will not complete, as your current Objective Viewpoint wants it to, you may do likewise and also declare it ‘bad’. My experience of being someone who once suffered with obsessions and phobias, and of working with others who have had similarly intense emotional problems, is not only do we declare the individual internal story bad – we believe our entire emotional system is bad. We go to war on ourselves over it without realising that in the majority of our experiences our emotional system is working just fine.

Your Objective Viewpoint of a thing, of anything, is fed both by your left logical neo-cortex and also your pattern making right neo-cortex.

Time-Out for Emotional Disorder Sufferers: The Data Stripping Process

If you suffer with an emotional problem, or are trying to help someone who is, the following six short paragraphs may be some of the most important paragraphs you ever read:

The job of your left logical neo-cortex is to organise unemotional information in chronological order and link it up to other unemotionally charged informational structures in your brain. To make sense and meaning of it, and then to let it go and stop paying attention to it.

Your brain must make sure this process is completed in order to let go of an emotional experience. This information is then stored in your unemotional memories for reference purposes later. To help this process your left neo-cortex is able to ‘name’ the data and record the data chronologically.

‘Naming’ the data means your logical brain is able to put a fence round it. It is the difference between looking at a glass of water you believe you control and looking at a choking fog you believe controls you. We call it ‘fog’ and we instantly feel differently about it. Does this make sense?

If you cannot name a thing your logical brain will repeatedly ask the rest of your brain to look at it because until you are able to fence it in like this your logical brain cannot deal with it and you will not be able to let go of the experience – you will keep experiencing it until you can fence it in in this way.

The job of your right patterning neo-cortex is to strip emotional energy from your emotionally charged experiential scenes and then transfer emotionless data over to your logical neo-cortex so it can organise it logically.

By moving your Conscious Point of Focus either towards a pattern (image) held in your right neo-cortex, or towards a trapped emotional response held in your body (towards intense feeling) you immediately start triggering this emotional stripping and data transfer process. Once the emotional stripping; data transfer; naming and storing process is complete an emotional disorder is removed because the different parts of your brain will stop paying attention to it.

OK – back to the Objective Viewpoint:

At the point the full model of a story has been built in your logical mind, and experienced by your pattern creating emotional mind to the point it no longer finds experiential enjoyment in the story, you have completed the journey and achieved a different Objective Viewpoint which becomes set. You now ‘let go’ of the story.

I was a teenager when the movie Star Wars first came out. I saw it at the cinemas six times in as many weeks – first as an individual and then because all my friends were going to see it. After the sixth time I no longer wished to see it. Emotionally it was ‘bone dry’ for me by then. I saw a re-run a couple of months ago and all I could think was how the flashing lights on the walls of the Millennium Falcon spaceship looked like pointless flashing plastic lights. And I realised that was what they were. A very different experience from when I went to see the movie those six times!

This process exactly matches the process you go through when working to remove obsessions and phobias through exposure therapy.

You do not consciously control this process – it occurs as a side-effect of the way in which our attention system works. In order to complete the process you just ‘go to the movies’ – especially those now showing in your nearest emotional world.

Regardless of how intense or problematic your own internal emotional issues may be they operate in this way. You will see this in others when they have a fixed opinion changed by external forces and then resettle into a new opinion (by the way, if we were to say they should think more flexibly before they changed that would be our own Objective Viewpoint talking!).

The Objective viewpoint exists as the norm until something happens to pressure it into changing. So let us have something happen to you. Let us have your partner, the one you have been married to for ten years without any sign of trouble, ask for a divorce.

The Subjective Viewpoint

In a fictional story it does not make much difference to you that various characters have different Objective Viewpoints – that is what drives the tension in a story. But when the Objective viewpoints held by others drive them to radically affect your future you will generally react with your Subjective viewpoint.

In a fictional story you see the main character tootling along in normal happy- life mode until their lives are severely disrupted by some incident. As a result they become emotionally responsive and have to deal with one crisis after another until achieving the final solution and return to their own, less emotional, Objective-viewpoint-lives. As observer of this you empathise but are not subjected to it. You get the luxury of sitting in judgement on character reactions through the entire story.

When it happens In real life you are the Subjective Character. You sense others are sitting in judgement on you. When the partner you have been with ten years tells you they want a divorce your reaction is from the Subjective Viewpoint. You are being rejected by their Objective Viewpoint.

Next they tell you they have been having an affair for those ten years and since your name is not on the property paperwork you lose your home. By the way, their lover is turning up in two hours to move in. Their lover arrives and it is your best friend. You only have one best friend.

You think about everything you have invested in these relationships and everything you stand to lose and the various ways in which you have been betrayed.

You open up to and acknowledge all the little undermining behaviours your partner engaged in but which you ignored or forgave because you loved them. All the signals about the affair were there but you ignored them. You declare yourself an idiot. You cannot believe how the two of them have fooled you like this! You want to wreck the house, you feel so angry.

Now your soon-to-be-ex partner tells you they never loved you because underneath your pleasant facade you were this unreasonable angry monster. This tunes straight into your self-critical unconscious beliefs. Was I an angry monster all the time? Am I responsible for the end of my relationship?

You find yourself torn between two Objective Viewpoints. Could you have been a better person or is your partner solely responsible for what is happening here? Should you accept your rage or should you feel guilty instead? You become ambivalent.

If you have an obsession or a phobia the ambivalence is created by the question of whether or not you should keep trying to move away from the trigger causing the condition or if you should move towards it and defeat it. Can you defeat it? The argument of moving away seems to be the natural decision – but you keep wondering if you could get rid of this problem by going in the opposite direction.

And all the time you are adding self-critical judgements to the mix declaring your internal story bad when in reality it is just a story not yet completed..

Welcome to the battle between the Acceptable Objective viewpoint and the Unacceptable Objective viewpoint

In fictional stories, from the Objective Viewpoint, you get to oversee two journeys travelled by two opposing arguments represented by characters who are both subjectively and therefore emotionally attached to the outcomes of the story.

You will tend to automatically adopt the Subjective Viewpoint of the character you identify with most. Most of us identify with the ‘goodie’ because it is more comfortable to do so as it fits within our socially programmed moral framework.

The question that first comes up for you when you enter the world of story is ‘who is the goodie and who is the baddie?’ because you want to identify with the goodies. You feel good when you identify with goodies because they are more like normal people whereas baddies are concerned with making things much worse and do not seem the least bit family orientated.

If the ‘baddie’ is a fully rounded character, however, you can find yourself understanding and quite liking the ‘baddie’ as well. In Batman movies you may find yourself liking ‘The Joker’. Everyone likes a sense of humour, right? What if, half way through the movie, you discover the goodie character murdered their grandmother for an inheritance? I recently watched a movie with a flashback scene in which an alleged hero shot a pregnant woman because she irritated him – I hated him for the rest of the movie and was pleased he got what was coming to him (but I also wondered where the hero in the story had got to).

What you experience, in a relatively painless way in stories, but very painfully in your own emotional world, is ambivalence and your craving for an eventual state of Congruency.


Ambivalence occurs when you believe two opposing arguments at the same time and are equally emotionally charged and attached to both. In a story it is regarded as a necessity of the plot, but when we hold these arguments internally it can be agony. In the scenario of being dumped by your partner you are torn between

  • holding yourself responsible for the failure of your marriage and feeling sorry for the experience your partner, who you still love despite their deceitful behaviour, has allegedly had to go through as a result of living with not-good-enough you (poor them) while at the same time you feel
  • enraged at how these two important individuals, partner and best friend, have conspired for years to destroy your hoped for future and everything you invested. They have ruined your life.

You see yourself wanting to kill them but also think yourself responsible for their behaviour. Feeling both enraged and guilty you do not know how to deal with this ambivalence.

Are they the good guys or are you the good guy? Which is which?

Here you are struggling to get back to the Objective Viewpoint – the viewpoint that knows what is really going on and which, if you could just sit there right now, would really show you what you should do next for the best. This is why counsellors (relationship counsellors in this case) are worth their salt – they are instant, trustworthy and experienced Objective Viewpoints for hire. Love these folks.

Prior to this point you saw all divorces as ‘their’ divorces. Other people got divorced and you could see the reasons they got divorced. They are so blind to their faults! Now in the land of Subjective viewpoints it is a different world altogether. Now you find yourself having an extreme emotional response to losing something or someone you personally have a stake in and you wish you did not have to change your Objective Viewpoint in line with what is going on in reality.

But you do – and you find it a real struggle because you are trying to sort out who the goodie is, who the baddie is, and how you can mentally figure the whole story out and then hopefully once you have done all this everyone will come out looking like a good guy.

The Difference and Similarity Between Internal Stories and External Stories (Real-life versus Fictional Life)

When you engage with an external story you engage with a carefully designed construct with a socially acceptable morality message built in. Most stories with socially unacceptable morality messages get censored out. Also, you engage fully with the most moral character – you attach to that argument and stick with it for the whole story. In external stories the baddies get what is coming to them and the goodies get their rewards.

In real life stories though baddies often benefit for long periods of time and good people have bad things happen to them – and then get blamed and punished for it as well! Not only that, whereas in fictional stories the goodie characters may have only just a pinch of self-reproach here and there in real life goodies tend to be full of self-criticism.

So what should we do in order to sort all this out when it comes to working with what we do feel and should feel if we want to complete our own intense internal stories so getting to a new painless Objective Viewpoint as quickly as possible?

Understand that Emotional Responses Have Nothing to Do with Morality – they are Simply Arguments in a Story with Energy Attached

The problem with your internal emotional stories is you contain various Subjective and ambivalent viewpoints at full emotional strength. The argument for taking revenge on your partner and your best friend is as strongly emotionally supported as is the argument against.

The argument for moving towards the imagery and emotional responses driving emotional disorders is as strong as the argument for moving away from them. You contain the full story – warts, flowers and all. You are capable of any of these options. But you are also capable of discharging the story in private, removing it fully and still arriving at a new, emotionally neutral (and happy) Objective Viewpoint.

All you need do is repeatedly visit the story enough times you discharge the emotional energy attached, travel through the four viewpoints and end up letting go of the whole business. You will remember the internal story in terms of logical data, but you will not experience it. I swear those flashing lights in Star Wars are just that.

Regards – Carl