❤❤❤ Jonathan Gottschalls The Storytelling Animal

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Jonathan Gottschalls The Storytelling Animal



In conclusion, the main characters in this Jonathan Gottschalls The Storytelling Animal are not only autistic, but also Swedish and millennial. It Jonathan Gottschalls The Storytelling Animal a privilege to have you as a Jonathan Gottschalls The Storytelling Animal and friend! Nu heb ik dan vorige maand op een Amerikaans vliegveld zijn laatste boek gekocht, Arguably. When initiating this research project, I Persuasive Speech On Criminal Justice no 18th Century Women of exploring imagination. Dat is niet zo: verwarring is van alle tijden. Ons Jonathan Gottschalls The Storytelling Animal ontstond Jonathan Gottschalls The Storytelling Animal de grond en uit planten, om Jonathan Gottschalls The Storytelling Animal te bereiken een veilige haven. On Jonathan Gottschalls The Storytelling Animal contrary, invisible interaction appears to be facilitated by predictability, emotional coherence and lack of confusing bodily cues.

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How do we take what we do in our every day lives and turn them into something make-believe, which could be both magical and horrifying, when we sleep? What does it mean when we dream the same dream over and over? Williams uses symbolism to give the characters in his play a way to escape from reality and live in their own dream. There are few symbolisms that are used in this play, the first one being the glass animals. In on april 22 Frederik willems introduced lucid dreaming in the meeting of the society for psychical research C. Stephen LaBerge 1. He was the one who introduced his method for physiological investigation of lucid dreaming through eye signals in You are paralyzed so you won 't act out what you are doing in your dream.

The Yankee speaks to the narrator who believes he is Sandy since he cannot see well, and tells the narrator that he just woke up from a dream before passing away. Hank declares he had various dreams, extremely bizarre dreams. He then calls for Sandy who is sadly not there, and says his dreams were so realistic he has probably gone mad, but still they were so vivid. Freud dreams: In ancient times, dreams were believed to be gifts from the gods in which glimpses to the future and life direction were given.

Freud preferred to look at dreams with a more scientific base. He believed dreams were the unconscious leaking the repressed desires of the dreamer. As a child dreamer, a wish fulfilment would be very clear such as eating a cookie, this rarely required interpretation. Adults, being more complex, required a sensitive exploration by the dreamer and analyst to unravel the true meaning. Essays Essays FlashCards. Browse Essays. Sign in. Muzikaliteit is een van de wonderlijkste menselijke eigenschappen.

Het heeft geen enkel aanwijsbaar evolutionair nut, en toch hebben alle mensen het. Hij heeft duidelijk zelf de afgelopen tien, vijftien jaar in het centrum gestaan van vernieuwend onderzoek naar muziekperceptie en kan dan ook putten uit eigen onderzoekservaringen als hij het verhaal vertelt. In een lange reeks experimenten hebben Honing en zijn groep inmiddels laten zien dat pro. Kris Verburgh. De voedselzandloper. Over afvallen en langer jong blijven. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, In de dagen voor kerst, met een Italiaanse vrouw en schoonfamilie die op bezoek komen, lezen dat je zo min mogelijk suikers moet eten — en vooral geen pasta of brood —, is dat geen ultieme vorm van jezelf kwellen? In De voedselzandloper zet de jonge arts en popularisator Kris Verburgh uiteen wat volgens hem het belangrijkste wetenschappelijke inzicht is van onze tijd: dat we veel meer aan preventie moeten doen van gezondheidsproblemen dan aan genezing.

Door je te richten op wat we wetenschappelijk weten over gezondheid. Verburgh klinkt daarbij af en toe behoorlijk eigenwijs. Hij publiceerde zo'n tien jaar geleden, op zijn zeventiende, zijn eerste populair-wetenschappelijke boek. Inmiddels heeft hij een uitgebreide wetenschappelijke training achter de rug, maar hij klinkt nog steeds een beetje waanwijs. Het dieet dat hij. Christopher Hitchens. Van de dit jaar overleden Christopher Hitchens had ik natuurlijk wel gehoord.

Maar ik had nog nooit iets van hem gelezen. Nu heb ik dan vorige maand op een Amerikaans vliegveld zijn laatste boek gekocht, Arguably. Het is een boek waarmee je makkelijk iemand kunt doodslaan — niet alleen lichamelijk, omdat het zo'n lijvig boek is, maar ook geestelijk, vanwege de gigantische eruditie die de schrijver tentoon spreidt. Het boek bestaat uit een zeer groot aantal essays die Hitchens in de laatste zeven of acht jaar van zijn leven schreef en ze omvat een zeer groot aantal onderwerpen: van Amerikaanse presidenten tot en met de Zweedse thrillertrilogie Millennium en van de prangende vraag waarom vrouwen eigenlijk niet grappig zijn tot en met de situatie in Noord-Korea.

Hitchens overziet al die onderwerpen superieur — je krijgt het gevoel dat hij van alles weet over van alles, ook omdat hij zo duidelijk schreef. Het klinkt allemaal moeiteloos en vanzelfsprekend, het klinkt allemaal al. Seemingly unaware of each other, these two psy- chologists concurrently provided case studies of gifted but socially isolated children with repetitive behaviour and highly specialized interests.

Novel methodological approaches led to a reconceptualization and shift of focus from individual cases and inner lives of autistic individuals towards observable and measurable traits. By that time, autism had also come to include children with brain damage and learning disabilities. The diagnostic criteria were consequently changed. Autism was now also understood as a developmental condition, rather than a mental illness Wolff, They termed the cluster of three strands of difficulties the triad of impairments: social interaction e.

Wing and Gould also related these traits to restricted and repetitive interests e. However, Lai and colleagues note that whilst being primarily directed towards clinical work, the DSM also guides the definition of autism in medical and psychological research. This situation is criticized by Eric London , who argues that scholars may overlook additional features that are not acknowledged in the diagnostic manual. Parental organizations and autistic individuals have ever since come to influence and destigmatize the contemporary discussion about autism.

For instance, several of the most influential organizations today e. Wolff adds that next to innovations and progress in educational and medical interventions, parental involvement has also led to the dissemination of non-scientific ideas, such as fear of vaccines and ineffective dietary proposals. While ICD 11 mirrors the DSM 5 in many ways, such as including sensory problems and merging several previous diagnoses under one umbrella term, it also differs in certain ways, for instance by separating autism with and without intellectual disability into separate categories.

The stories that these movements promote can be understood as an attempt to make autism intelligible: what Mitchell and Snyder call a narrative device. Pellicano, Dinsmore and Charman , for instance, note that no unifying biological or genetic cause for autism has been identified and point towards the significant variation between individuals. This, of course, ties in with the debate of autistic heterogeneity.

No one thing unites all individuals with autism and there may be no one thing that explains all symptoms. This view conceptualizes clinical diagnoses, such as autism, as systems of connected symptoms. This would, for instance, explain why individuals outside the autism spectrum may share comparable traits. It also provides an explanation for the common covariation among various diag- noses. In line with the heterogeneous turn, this thesis embraces a non-reductionist view of the various expressions and experiences seen in autistic individuals. In order to situate my own study of autism more precisely, I here present four different areas of research that in various ways connect to my thesis: cognitive autism research, critical autism studies, psychological anthropology, and the scholarly field focusing autistic embodiment.

Work in this field draws on epidemiological methods that aim to generalize traits and behaviour towards the larger autistic population and has contributed significantly to the understanding of general traits, difficulties and strengths. Much attention has been directed towards social cognition and communicative abilities, as these are central to autism. Three older accounts have been especially influential among cognitive researchers.

The development of the broken mirror hypothesis provided an extension of the ToMM. In an fMRI study on autistic teenagers, Iacoboni and Dapretto found that brain activity was not reduced according to typical patterns when processing socially relevant information, and concluded that autistic individuals might not simulate or recognize the actions of others in relation to themselves. However, Gallagher and colleagues found in another fMRI study that autistic individuals were able to solve ToM tasks by using different brain circuits than the expected ones. Sue Gerrard also notes that the concept of ToM has been interpreted differently by autism researchers see also discussion in Publica- tion 1 which complicates comparisons of results.

Importantly, Frith and Frith specified that while intuitive mentalizing difficulties are challenged in autism, these may be compensated for by reflective processing. Helen Tager- Flusberg consequently argued that ToMM may account for some, but not all, autistic traits. This suggests that attention to details is central to autistic cognition, which causes difficulties in integrating contextual and general information. This would explain the demand for structure and predictability, as well as the remarkable skills of detecting patterns seen in some autistic individuals see De Jaegher, A third account was provided by James Russell who focused the role of executive functioning EF. Since autistic indi- viduals prefer repetition and sameness, and struggle with impulse control and shifting attention which cannot be explained by ToMM , Russell suggested that EF deficits underlies such difficulties.

Beyond these three predominant theories, later work contributed further nuan- ces to the picture of autistic cognition. Difficulties in emotion processing in autistic individuals can thus be explained by this overlapping diagnosis see Publication I. Smith ; see also Taylor, suggested that some autistic individuals may even have heightened emotional empathy, and argued that diffi- culties in cognitive empathy combined with robust affective empathy cause many — 4 While Russel often is credited with the EF model of autism, his work was preceded by Damasio and Maurer and Rumsey Such nuancing challenges both the notion of autism as an empathy disorder e. Baron-Cohen et al, and the broken mirror hypothesis.

Another significant area of research concerns the role of sensory processing. Despite the early findings on unusual responses to sensory stimuli e. Kanner, ; Ornitz, ; Sukhareva, , this was not included as a core feature until the introduction of the DSM 5 Other studies also suggest that unusual perceptual experiences that occur without any input of sensory stimuli are common in autism Horder et al. Neuroscientific work also suggests that multimodal processing is of importance. Wallace explains that in order to gain a holistic experience of simultaneous information from several senses e. Light, for instance, travels faster than sound, but in typical individuals these signals become integrated through the temporal binding window.

Stevenson et al. Much of the cognitive work presented here is significant for this project. Publication I, for example, discusses — and to some extent challenges — the ToMM by involving findings on alexithymia and emotional empathy. A detailed discussion about the role of sensory processing in religious cognition is found in Publications I and II. Cognitive studies of imagination in autism are also of relevance, but to limit the scope I have not included these here.

Instead, I direct the reader towards Publications I and III, in which I reconsider previous claims that imaginative and creative abilities generally are constrained in autistic individuals. Davidson and Orsini , who once coined the term CAS, describes that the field a explores power relations, b involves narratives that challenge the negative medical discourse, and c creates an emancipatory methodological and theoretical approach that values autistic individuality and enculturation. In contrast to aim of generalizing traits to the whole autistic population in the medical sciences, CAS highlights the great variation among autistic individuals and subgroups. This thesis embraces the CAS argument that medical generalizations need to be complemented by contextualized knowledge from within the autism spectrum: It is clear that people with autism do not speak with one voice.

Anything less would be fundamentally insulting and harmful to people with autism themselves, and the myriad knowledge and experience they mobilise in the field of autism. This idea has been highly influential among psychological and cognitive scholars, as illustrated by the vast number of publications examining such traits. James McGrath moreover notes that an eye for systematizing is useful in many other, and often unexpected, areas beyond the STEM sciences: … poetry is a system of tradition and experience: two qualities it shares with science.

But poetry is also more intimately conducive and gratifying to autistic senses and sensibilities than tends to be recognized. Reading, speaking and writing it can create a — 6 According to Google Scholar, the article was cited in publications in January Not unlike autism itself, poetry can flourish outside of the norms of linguistic expression. He illustrates how popular depictions of fictional characters e. Daniel Tammet and Temple Grandin8 and historical figures that have been identified with autistic traits e. This focus on negative traits contributes to defining autistic individuals in terms of medicalized incapacities and contributes to the conventional idea that all autistic individuals are alike Murray, However, social media and personal blogs have become important tools for disseminating alternative and subjective perspectives on autism.

Sparrow, In summary, CAS scholars attend to complexities, lived experiences and repre- sentations of autistic individuals. Their arguments can be considered in light of non-speaking autistic poets e. Tito Mukhopadhuay and DJ Savarese who never- theless display with impressive language competencies, the many individuals with severe motoric and vestibular difficulties who may walk clumsily or be unable to hold a pen, and are equally autistic as those who become professional athletes e.

Stephen Wiltshire and Nadia Chomyn. While being highly capable in certain areas of life, they struggle in other areas. There is thus great variety both within and between individuals. The significance of naming things has been taken seriously during the writing of this thesis. This appears to be an increasing trend amongst cognitive scholars, many of whom now use term autism spectrum condition, rather than disorder. I have also made an effort to include autistic voices as far as possible, for instance involving the participants as active collaborators and later evaluating the outcome with the help of autistic colleagues and friends.

Of course not, right? Well no, not here and now. Ben Belek, The approach presented in this thesis is in many ways similar to anthropological work on neurodiversity that operates in the intersection between psychology, cognitive science and cultural studies. Olga Solomon notes how the view of autism has been divided between biomedical and cultural sciences, and argues that ethnographically-based anthropology positions itself in relation to both. Put differently, anthropologists base their work on interactions with autistic individuals, acknowledging the fact that their lived experiences may not match those of the researcher.

A better way to put it, perhaps, would be to say that I learn from autistic people. He further comments that heart-warming narratives that attempt to correct the stigma of neurodiversity actually are a patronizing intensification of otherness. Descriptions therefore need to be balanced and fair to those that are described. In line with the anthropologically informed work outlined here, my aspiration has been to create new knowledge by talking to — rather than talking about — the participants in this study, and to never do so in condescending terms. This approach signals an ethical stance that embraces otherness as equally human as any other way of being Sewell, I also carry with me the self-reflective insight that my account of autism and the participants studied is coloured by my own cultural and experiential outlook see Grinker, Your senses live alone like bachelors, like bitter, slanted rhymes whose marriage is a sham.

As discussed above see section 3. They give examples to demonstrate they are sensitive to the point of anguish by too bright a light, too loud a sound, too scratchy a surface or other touch; when sensations become overwhelming, this leads to virtual collapse, screams, etc. These accounts are strikingly consistent and backed by parental observation. Hacking, , Currently, the awareness of such sensorial and embodied aspects amongst autism researchers seems to be increasing. Hanne De Jaegher notes that none of the three overarching theories of autism ToM, WCC and EF can be used indepen- dently — or even together — to explain the social and communicative difficulties observed in autistic individuals.

The reason, she argues, is that they all fail to include bodily aspects and interpersonal coordination between people, and their role the sense-making processes and behaviour of autistic individuals: Sense-making plays out and happens through the embodiment and situatedness of the cognitive agent: her ways of moving and perceiving, her affect and emotions, and the context in which she finds herself, all determine the significance she gives to the world, and this significance in turn influences how she moves, perceives, emotes, and is situated.

De Jaegher, , 1 De Jaegher illustrates the impact of autistic movements and perceptions through the seemingly simple act of grabbing a glass of water, which is uncomplicated for a non- autistic person who is able to filter out irrelevant details. However, as autistic individuals generally perceive things in detail, a basic task such as selecting which glass to drink from becomes challenging. Importantly, the enactive approach also involves those interacting with autistic individuals.

The authors further illustrate how the use of baby-talk, which involves heighten- ed emotions, slower speech and widened eyes, conflicts with autistic sensory proces- sing. Restraint communicative approaches e. The mere idea of more face-to-face time was too overwhelming. The clinic where she worked was built with the smell of hand sanitizer. There were low ceilings, fluorescent lights, stained carpets, sticky leather couches, heavy mahogany desks, a packed waiting room, and her intent gaze over a notepad. She smelled like rose geranium because she always does.

The environment was serene, the couch was soft, and I was not disabled. I was home. Embodied and emotional coherence thus supports predictability in social interac- tions. Predictability, transparency and temporal adjustments thus appear to be keys to autistic communication. Importantly, this thesis builds on the idea that autism is not either a social or a sensory phenomenon, but rather that various mechanisms are at play and vary between individuals.

However, embodied aspects have been so far been overlooked in relation to religious cognition in autism see section 2. The epistemological challenge of interdisciplinary research The French philosopher Bruno Latour has argued that different aspects of life require different languages, or templates. Rather, we need to switch between different linguistic modes, depending on the area of life discussed. I have similarly come to understand the divide between nomothetically- and idiographically-oriented scholars as partly related to a category mistake. My endeavour to grasp the differences and similarities of these often- conflicting epistemologies has led me to appreciate the strength of using various methods and approaches.

Writing from the position of someone who is trained in the humanities, my work yet aims at entering into dialogue with a nomothetically oriented audience e. CSR scholars, cognitive psychologists and cognitive autism researchers. I have for instance made an effort to translate my work into terms that are recognized in the cognitive sciences, and have striven towards clarifying the hermeneutical process to make it comprehensible to an audience that is mainly familiar with quantifiable methods.

Another diving line concerns the difference between generating and testing hypotheses. Quantitative research should test hypotheses, and enable the generalizability of findings to larger popula- tions. For both, standards must be high for reliability and validity. The results have been published in journals primarily targeting a nomothetically oriented audience, even though the subject is also approached from a humanities point of view. In the end, some researchers may fail to see what kind of contributions such an interdisciplinary approach may bring about. However, my experience from this project is that the combination of various methods, theories and outlooks has given me a deeper and broader outlook on the topics studied, and I like to think of this thesis as a window through which diverse types of knowledge can be viewed simultaneously.

Independent of fields, scholars strive towards valid results and conclusions. Cross-fertilizing our research with valuable insights from different — and differing — perspectives, thus means a possibility to improve our work. Aims The primary aim of this thesis was to explore cognitive aspects of religion and spirituality in a sample of high functioning individuals on the autism spectrum. More specifically, my work aimed to: a formulate hypotheses about religious cognition that connect to social and embodied aspects of autism, b complement previous quantitative generalizations through first-person narratives from within the autism spectrum, c provide a critical and constructive discussion about theore- tical and methodological approaches within the CSR and cognitive autism research, and d develop an interdisciplinary and multilevel research process by using insights from idiographic and nomothetic fields of research.

These overarching aims were specified in each publication, as defined below. The aims of Publication I were to: 1 distinguish how the participants form relationships with supernatural agents, and 2 compare these to social relations with peers to shed light on cognitive specifics regarding the social difficulties that autistic individuals experience. The aims of Publication II were to: 1 examine how the participants had come to understand unusual somatosensory experiences, such as sensing invisible presence, seeing visions, or hearing voices in supernatural terms, and 2 to investigate whether autistic individuals differ from the matched, non-autistic participants in the prevalence of such experiences.

The aims of Publication III were to: 1 advance the understanding of autistic ima- gination from a cognitive point of view, and 2 explore the psychological function of parasocial relations and cognitive characteristics of intrasubjective worlds. The aims of Publication IV were to: 1 promote a critical discussion about how methodological and terminological approaches impact results when studying populations with atypical, cognitive processing, and 2 provide suggestions of how research designs can be adapted to achieve valid results.

Method 6. However, this depiction is limited by the ethical requirement of anonymity, and it should be mentioned that I am the only one who knows what people are included in the final sample. I also included a number of participants from families with immigrant backgrounds, as Sweden paradoxically comes across as both one of the most secular and the most multi-religious countries in the world Sorgenfrei, However, quite few pupils from immigrant backgrounds were enrolled in the special edu- cational schools I visited, which of course reflects the fact that they are a national minority population.

It may, however, also be an indication that fewer immigrated families enrol their children in such schools. Being unable to find any studies confirming this observation, this remains an anecdotal report. The majority of the participants were raised in secularized families and many described that their views of life involved ideas from various traditions e. Half of the sample described supernatural notions that their family members do not share, sometimes secretly to avoid disapproval. When asked if they had ever sought out groups of like-minded people, most of them responded that it was unlikely that any community would accept their eclectic views of life, or that they were afraid of being forced into accepting doctrines and ideas that they did not want to embrace.

The composition seen in this sample seems to be consistent with previous research on Swedish teenagers. Olov Dahlin found for instance found in an interview study that many of his participants expressed beliefs in spirits and ghosts and that these seemed to be influenced by popular culture. I visited classes of non-autistic pupils at the same three schools from which the autistic participants had been recruited to present my project and objectives. Amongst those who agreed to complete the Views of life-questionnaire and the Brief RCOPE scale, I recruited a sample of 17 persons that as far as possible matched the autism group see 6. The results from the AQ-scale were moreover used to assess that none of them had a typical autistic profile.

The comparison group consists of 11 males and 6 females aged between 16—21 years of age. In both groups, one male participant is insecure about his actual gender identity. As in the autism group, their real identities have been protected by code names. Five participants labelled themselves as Christian and six as Muslim out of which one previously considered herself a Christian. There were thus some more Muslims in this group, which indicates that may have grown up in immigrated families, given that Islam is a minority religion in Sweden. I also included two people to match the autistic participants whose views of life are of philosophical character.

As these participants did not take part in the interviews, I have no detailed information about what kind of invisible relations they engaged in in beyond labels such as Christian that indicate that God and Jesus are relevant , or to what extent. Therefore, the third column in Table 1 is removed from Table 2. I neither have any knowledge about any current religious activity in their families. However, the matching was made as detailed as possible according to age, gender and views of life as reported in the questionnaires.

Initially, I set out to find a strategic sample of autistic participants who described themselves as either religious or spiritual and who wanted to share their narratives with me. As I had many years of teaching experience teaching from a special edu- cational department, I knew that I had to find a setting in which the participants would both feel safe and which did not require of them to travel between places and thereby causing them stress — which would both be unethical and increase the risk of losing participants along the way.

I therefore decided to recruit participants from special-educational schools attended by autistic individuals, as these provide rou- tines, rooms for meetings and professional staff e. In hindsight, no such incidents occurred. At the three schools identified as suitable, I soon felt comfortable around the pupils and I was often treated as a colleague by the teachers who learnt that I too was a teacher. They also helped by inviting me to present the project in their class- rooms, suggested pupils who might be interested, gave me access to spare rooms, and allowed me to come and go as I wished.

Being aware that it may take time to acquire the confidence of autistic individuals, both as a result of their mindreading difficulties, and because far too many of them have experienced being harassed and misunderstood by peers and teachers alike, I began by visiting the schools on a regular basis during four months to allow for the pupils to gradually get to know me better and find out more about the project. During this period, I also visited lessons in order to describe my project and tell the pupils that I was looking for participants.

After each presentation, I sat close to the teacher to allow for the pupils to study me and thereby become acquainted with my presence. Initially I was careful not to be obtrusive and make anyone feel pressured to participate, but gradually realized that I needed to approach the pupils directly since autistic individuals may be hesitant about taking such an initiative themselves. Eventually, 17 participants volunteered to take part in the study. The coding of names turned out to be a transformative act. The reason for doing this was solely ethical, but I was surprised to see how enthusiastic the participants were when asked to choose a new and secret nickname.

When they signed the form of consent, I emphasized my obligation to never disclose their participation in the project. As it turned out, the secret name, the promise of a safe space and their assigned role as autistic experts appears to have created a trustful alliance and rapport. We also met three times before the interviews to fill in questionnaires, and gradually the participants opened up to share their life stories. It is not uncommon for anthropological and ethnographic researchers to become involved with the people they spend a lot of time with. There have been moments of both laughter and tears along the way. However, once back at my desk I have tried to take a step back and switch on my professional self in order to do the narratives justice both theoretically and analytically.

The research process thus balances between closeness and distance, and moves between understanding and explanation. Travelling to three different schools, presenting myself to pupils in classrooms and spending casual time with them at breaks and over lunch added significant time to the process. They were carefully instructed in the process to make sure that the gathering of data was performed similarly by everyone.

Many autistic individuals struggle with their awareness of time, and I therefore sent out reminders of our scheduled meetings one day ahead, and then again one hour before the meeting. Despite this, some participants forgot that I was coming and left school before I arrived, which meant that we had to reschedule the meeting. The autistic participants also required more time to complete the scales than the non- autistic participants, primarily because they were careful about arriving at correct responses and therefore wanted to discuss items that they found to be ambiguous. At the beginning of a term, many of the participants were fully occupied in adapting to their new schedules and routines and by the end of the term some were too tired for extracurricular activities.

I therefore arranged for most of the appoint- ments to take place between these stressful periods. There were also periods when some participants suffered from stress, ill health, sleeping problems, or grief after losing a beloved pet. We then halted their participation until they felt able to resume. This naturally delayed the gathering of material, but it was still crucial not to push forward too soon for ethical reasons. One early participant asked to ter- minate his participation due to time constraints, and another was forbidden by her family to participate because they did not understand why I was seeking informa- tion about their religion.

Some participants also prolonged the meetings by discussing existential issues and personal matters and I was happy to extend the time to return their generosity and gain further insights into their lives. After the final meeting, many expressed that participation had been interesting and a rare opportunity to process their views of life. One way of understanding this commitment is that their roles as narrating subjects transformed the common medicalized objectification of autistic individuals.

Looking back, these hundreds of hours have been of immense value. Gaining the trust and rapport of the participants made them open up, especially when they understood that I was genuinely interested and did not judge their views of life. I also gained valuable insights from casual conversations with other autistic pupils who engaged in discussions with me. After arriving at the hypotheses described in the attached publications, I also took the opportunity to check whether these seemed plausible from their autistic point of view. Such verifications have strengthened my confidence that the conclusions in this dissertation are of substance.

I therefore set out to find a non-invasive way to conduct interviews, which was how I came to design a so-called visual life story interview. Despite being commonly used in anthropology and sociology Pink, , visual methods are rarely used in the study of religions Uehlinger, However, Sarah Dunlop argues that such methods are well suited for study- ing religious concepts as they encourage participants to provide their own personal meaning and interpretation of events that otherwise may be difficult to express in words.

Therefore, I instructed my participants to prepare their own interviews: In short, you will take part in an interview about your religiosity. Before the inter- view, you need to make some preparations. You will be given a disposable camera and a notebook. Keep these close, for instance in your bag, so you have the camera at — 2 Elise is the only one in the autistic sample who did not fulfil her participation due to personal reasons. However, she took part in a one hour long first meeting and provided rich narratives of her view of life and extraordinary experiences that she had in her daily life, which were interpreted in supernatural terms. I therefore kept her as part of the sample, despite the fact that she was not interviewed. You are going to take photos that illustrate religion in your life, defined broadly.

The participants also got a list of possible themes alphabetically ordered in Swedish; here translated as they were listed in the table to illustrate how many various aspects could be of significance. He suggested that brief notes could serve as mnemonic support, such as describing why the photograph was taken and how they felt at the moment; a recommendation that also turned out to be valuable if a photo was too dark or was difficult to discern.

This was sufficient for them to continue with their preparations. A few participants also decided to skip the camera and only took notes, while some used their own smartphones or laptops to illustrate relevant topics. When a participant had completed the task, we settled on a date for the inter- view. I developed the photos from the disposable cameras, and in other cases the participants would bring their own preparatory material. When indicating to be ready, I started the recording device and initiated the interview by asking what topic or photo the participant wanted to describe first. The participant was thereafter in charge of the interview structure. I argue that such an inversion is especially significant when studying a population that rarely is heard in research, of both ethical and professional reasons: when studying atypical cognition, non-autistic scholars need to acknowledge the fact that atypical views and reactions may differ from our own, which in turn affects the validity of our results see discussion in Publication IV.

There are also methodological advantages specifically related to autistic indi- viduals, who are commonly distressed by difficulties predicting what will occur in a specific situation. In typical research settings, they may therefore become uncertain about whether they are behaving and performing appropriately or not. However, being put in charge of the interview procedure makes the process more predictable and ensures that it is structured according to their own preferences. Jon Prosser similarly points to the benefit of slowing things down and creating an opportunity to reflect on things that are otherwise invisible and taken for granted.

Visual imagery thus supports the verbal ability of participants with special needs and helps them express what is relevant in their lives. Christoph Uehlinger adds argues that visual methods are useful for grasp- ing intrinsic meaning of material, religious objects. The visual material indeed reflected both material and sensory aspects of religiosity. The other picture illustrates stones that one participant got during a religious festivity and which are used to relieve stress when caressed against the cheek. While material reli- gion is not discussed in detail in this thesis, such sensorial aspects are yet interesting when considering autistic processing of stimuli see section 3.

Judy Endow , for instance, describes how linguistic cues trigger her to search for mental images: I think in colors. My thinking colors have sound and movement. When I hear spoken words my neurology automatically goes for the match — a match for the words I hear to a familiar concrete picture of something in the world outside my skin or to an internal picture I have stored in my memory. In other words, imagery-based and participatory research methods appear to be especially suitable for qualitative autism research. Jonathan Smith des- cribes it as an idiographic, inductive and interrogative method that aims at cap- turing rich and thick descriptions of lived experiences.

All names of persons and places are feigned and de-identified to prevent recog- nition of the participants and the people they describe. In the publications of thesis, vernacular language, odd grammar, humming and stuttering was edited to enhance readability, but was retained in the original transcription of the interviews. Pauses in the speech were illustrated by three dots … and full stops and commas were inserted to illustrate clauses and subclauses.

Movements and sounds that are central to understand the tone of the oral narrative were written within square brackets i. This was followed by a close reading of the transcribed material, in which emerg- ing themes and subthemes were identified and arranged into a preliminary table e. Some of these were collapsed into new themes e. Eventually, a final master table with saturated themes that re-occurred throughout the material was completed. Many, but not all, of these themes were used in the pub- lications in this thesis. IPA is moreover a dialectic process in which the researcher moves between an abductive search for relevant topics and inductive attention to unexpected themes that surface from the interviews.

The process thus moves from detailed accounts towards a conceptual level, similar to a grounded theory approach see Bryant and Charmaz, , In contrast to hypothesis testing, in which hypotheses are formulated on beforehand, a qualitative researcher may need to be renegotiate focus along the way; such as if participants appear disinterested in discussing issues that the researcher expected to be relevant. While IPA is formalized to give an overview of how qualitative coding is performed, most researchers collecting qualitative material through interviews likely recognize it as an ordinary research procedure for analyzing data. First, I wanted to find suitable participants for the study. Second, as scales enable comparisons between groups, they would allow me to draw conclusions on possible differences between the autistic and non-autistic participants.

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