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9. Overview of Script Theory


  • Be able to define script and understand how scripts assemble and magnify sets of scenes.
  • How might therapists use script theory to better understand their clients’ suffering?


TT, James Duffy, “What’s a Script?” October 5, 1998

Bulletin, v3, #1-2, 1996, Donald L. Nathanson, “What’s a Script”, pp. 1-4.

EA, “Script Theory,” pp. 312-334.

Bulletin, v1, #2, 1994, Vernon Kelly, “Intimate Notes,” pp. 5-7.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is a script? How is it formed?
  2. What is key to the development of consciousness?
  3. Tomkins states “consciousness is a report about affect-driven imagery.” What does he mean by this?
  4. What does Nathanson mean by SARS?
  5. Explain the idea that scripts are the set of rules for the ordering of information about SARS.
  6. Explain our tendency to distort perception in order to make data fit into preexisting scripts.
  7. What role does affect play in coordinating scenes and responses to them?
  8. What is the difference between affect amplification (as in innate scripts) and psychological magnification (as in learned scripts)?
  9. How does magnification originate in early infancy? Is it always “heroic”?
  10. What is the difference between how a person acts in a scene with and without a script?
  11. Define information advantage, affect density, magnification advantage.
  12. Why is a person more conscious of scenes rather than rules for ordering them?
  13. What is “critical interscene distance” and how does it change with magnification?
  14. Tomkins states that scripts are more self-validating than self-fulfilling. What does this mean?
  15. Scripts are incomplete and conditional. How do individuals modify scripts to deal with unanticipated conditions?