by Tracy Granzyk

First posted on on 12/8/2012

Tracy Granzyk MS, Managing Editor, Educate the Young

On Educate the Young (ETY), we have mentioned more than once the power of sharing patient stories to further the patient-provider connection, as well as deliver teachable moments that touch the soul of a student or colleague and remain with the learner in ways statistics or outcomes data cannot. While some are just natural storytellers, others have to work at it by learning to let go of linear, fact driven reality and follow characters of our own creation or observation down a path out of our control. Don Berwick, has shared his stories of Isaiah, his grandson Nathaniel and Dr. Gruzenski in ways that have stirred a growing healthcare soul to action, making his message of healthcare quality and safety take new life. Having been a student of story most of my life, this new collective energy put toward finding healthcare solutions through storytelling is delightful. We cannot have too many good stories, or good storytellers, in the world–and looking at new ways to solve old healthcare challenges is encouraging.

So in the spirit of helping others develop their own storytelling muscles, I want to share the following TEDxEaling talk by Julian Friedmann, a literary agent, who was one of many in a lineup of storytelling experts that spoke at this TEDx Event in September. If you want to spend a day indulging your creative side, or just learn more about the structure beneath a good story, I suggest clicking over to their website and picking any of the videos from the day’s events (found here). Friedmann’s talk is a good one to start with, as he, like others who make a living creating, developing and selling stories, continues to emphasize how the creation of characters that audiences emotionally connect and engage with gives the writer control over an audience. By then throwing obstacles into the path of a character we now love, writers invite their audience on a rollercoaster ride of pity, fear and catharsis. The higher the stakes, the stronger the catharsis. And catharsis, according to Friedmann, is more than just an intellectual experience–it’s also physical, occuring as a result of the release of  phethylamine or PEA (aka the “happiness drug”) into the bloodstream. The same release and resulting feelings of ecstasy can be achieved by indulging in your favorite chocolate bar or having sex. So literally–we could be addicted story!

 

For additional TED talks on storytelling, you can find “The Best of TED on Story” here.