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Transformative Power of Storytelling Research Paper

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Updated: Feb 11th, 2022

Storytelling has always been a part of the human experience as an essential ways of communicating important messages and sharing knowledge. Allowing people to use their knowledge and beliefs to represent the world in a unique light, storytelling should be seen as a unique and inspiring activity. The art of storytelling has a huge transformative potential since it, in its essence, represents an attempt at interpreting specific events through the lens of an individual’s philosophy.

Storytelling represents a specific experience and a message that is expected to support the reader in their attempts at achieving a particular goal, be it aimed at an external goal or self-development objectives.

Therefore, the transformative power of storytelling lies in its ability to change the reader’s perspective and support them in developing an understanding of a particular idea or fact. The difficulty in accepting the specified idea may be addressed in the process with the help of the unique personal appeal of a story ad its ability to place the reader at the forefront (Lugmayr 15709). Thus, the healing aspect of the transformative power of storytelling manifests itself, as Kahn explained it in his assumption that stories have the healing power of transformation.

However, apart from the ability to health readers psychologically, storytelling also has a distinctively practical transformative function. Specifically, the subject matter can be utilized to expand one’s cognitive skills, thus setting the course for personal development. According to Lugmayr, storytelling has four core functions, which are perspective, narrative, interactivity, and medium (15708). Therefore, literature has a potentially high impact on different areas such as education, healthcare, science, and many others.

Consequently, it will be reasonable to suggest that important conclusions are made in the specified areas with the help of corresponding literature by transforming the narrative to make the needed logical conclusions. Put differently, discoveries are not encoded in the existing literature; instead, the chain of logical assumptions leading to the said discoveries needs to be made through the transformation of the existing knowledge. Therefore, the transformative power of literature is truly immense since it allows moving progress forward and encourages the further development of humankind.

Dissecting the unique transformative power of stories, one will realize that most of the appeal and convincingness that stories hold for their listeners is their ability to create an emotional connection with the reader. By offering their audiences the unique experience that will capture their imagination and aspire them to gain new knowledge, stories encourage their readers to learn new things and become better at specific areas of inquiry. For instance, Bublitz specifies that stories as a part of the public discourse contribute to a social impact that can be made not only by individuals or social institutions but also organizations with a clear mission and distinctive strategies for achieving it (241). Thus, stories serve as the tool for convincing audiences and persuading them to accept a specific viewpoint.

Remarkably, the specified power of storytelling is neither positive nor negative in its essence; instead, it represents a neutral force that can be used for either good or bad by the people or institutions that utilize these stories in a specific way. Therefore, stories can be used not only to help but also to injure and hurt people. Yoder-Wise and Kowalski specify that there is a specific structure to most stories told as an attempt of making sense of an individual’s life (38). Specifically, the authors point out that storytelling as a form of communication can be used in the nursing setting to help patients to heal and accept specific treatments as a part of their recovery process (Yoder-Wise and Kowalski 40).

Thus, the authors provide a perfect example of how storytelling can be used to create positive experiences from the existing system of knowledge by teaching crucial lessons with the help of narratives. It is also quite peculiar that the authors emphasize the perceived lack of awareness of how stories can change the course of a listener’s life, thus explaining how storytelling can also hurt people (Yoder-Wise and Kowalski 41). Therefore, it is important to develop awareness about the impact of storytelling on different types of audiences, especially if these audiences are mostly represented by children. Thus, early development can be encouraged, whereas the development of hindrances to it can be prevented from taking place.

In this regard, storytelling can be used in every domain that requires forming a unique and convincing message to transfer it to as many people as possible. For instance, Kent points out that the transformative potential of storytelling can be used in business and, particularly, marketing to shape people’s perception of a certain product or brand (482). Indeed, with the help of storytelling, one can create a brand image that will appeal to a specific demographic.

However, Kent also outlines that the specified power of the narrative can be used for greater purposes, such as changing the perception of specific social perceptions and prejudices. Thus, while the business-related context of storytelling does not seem to have the healing power that Kent mentions, the changes to the social perceptions of the target audiences certainly have.

Finally, the effects that the transformative power of storytelling has on the development of personal relationships need to be addressed to support Kent’s supposition that storytelling has healing power. According to Frude and Killick, storytelling is essential for building family relationships and creating a connection between the generation of parents and that one of children (443). Telling stories and sharing experiences, especially emotional ones, allows transcending the specified experiences and developing new insights into problems, thus gaining agency and independence. As a result, one gains the ability to think critically and use all resources available to approach a specific problem.

Consequently, storytelling becomes a crucial tool for parents to teach their children essential lessons and pass their wisdom to new generations. As a result, parents build the platform for shared experience and the opportunity to multiply it as their parental wisdom meets the insights and discoveries of new generations.

Since the art of storytelling primarily involves the skills of interpreting the objective reality in a way that fits the narrator’s belief system and personal philosophy, storytelling as an art form has a huge transformative potential and an immense power of shaping people’s views. In fact, one could make an argument that storytelling, when stripped down to its barest essence, is the art of transforming specific events in a manner that is palatable to readers and sensible to the narrator. Helping to convey crucial messages, change the perspective of readers, and prompt the dialogue concerning important issues, storytelling contains a huge transformative potential that should be used to advance the development of both individuals and communities.

Works Cited

Bublitz, Melissa G., et al. “Transformative Stories: A Framework for Crafting Stories for Social Impact Organizations.” Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, vol. 35, no. 2, 2016, pp. 237-248.

Frude, Neil, and Steve Killick. “Family Storytelling and the Attachment Relationship.” Psychodynamic Practice, vol. 17, no. 4, 2011, pp. 441-455.

Kent, Michael L. “The Power of Storytelling in Public Relations: Introducing the 20 Master Plots.” Public Relations Review, vol. 41, no. 4, 2015, pp. 480-489.

Lugmayr, Artur, et al. “Serious Storytelling – A First definition and Review.” Multimedia Tools and Applications, vol. 76, no. 14, 2017, pp. 15707-15733.

Yoder-Wise, Patricia S., and Karren Kowalski. “The power of Storytelling.” Nursing Outlook, vol. 51, no. 1, 2003, pp. 37-42.

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