The Narrative Escape

Please excuse me if I interrupt Vaughan’s normal programming to blow my own trumpet: My ebook “The Narrative Escape” was published yesterday by 40k books. ‘The Narrative Escape’ is a long essay about morality, psychology and stories and is availble in Kindle format. From the ebook blurb:

We instinctively tell stories about our experiences, and get lost in stories told by other people. This is an essay about our story-telling minds. It is about the psychological power of stories, and about what the ability to enjoy stories tells us about the fundamental nature of mind.

My argument in ‘The Narrative Escape’ begins by exploring Stanley Milgram’s famous experiments on obedience, looking at them as an example of moral decision making – particularly for that minority that choose to disobey in the experiment. A fascinating thing about these experiments is that although they tell us a lot about what makes people obey authority, they leave mysterious that quality that makes people resist tyrannical authority. I then go on to contrast this moral disobedience, with conventional psychological investigations of morality (for example the work of Lawrence Kohlberg). In using descriptions of moral dilemmas to ask people about their moral reasoning this research, I argue, misses something essential about real-world moral choices. This element is the ability to realise that you are acting according to someone else’s version of what is right and wrong, and to step outside of their definition of the situation. This is the “narrative escape” of the title. The essay also talks about dreams, stories and story-telling and other topics which I hope will be of interest to Mind Hacks readers.

The essay is also available in Italian as “La Fuga Narrativa Link for the English edition.
…And coming soon in Portuguese, I’m told!


  1. Aleden
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Is there any way you will be making this available in other formats for non-kindle-owning readers? Thanks!

  2. Aurora
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Why Portuguese? (not that I’m complaining, being half-Portuguese myself…)

  3. Posted October 21, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Permalink


    I believe you can purchase it in lots of different formats at smashwords. Although it doesn’t look like it’s available there yet.

  4. tom
    Posted October 22, 2010 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    You can download Kindle software to your iphone or ipad for free

    Portuguese because the publishers are in Italy and plan to release works in as many different European languages as possible

  5. Saar Shai
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    “We all role-play. Some of us just stay in one character all the time.” (Saar Shai)

  6. Lee
    Posted July 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I bought this sometime late last year, but didn’t have the time to invest during the school year (I work as a teacher.) I promptly forgot about it and hadn’t opened up my Kindle app for some time until just yesterday. I was trying to remember why I was interested enough to purchase ‘The Narrative Escape’ and decided to just open it up and see if it grabbed me.

    It did. Thank you. I found it fascinating. It pulled in research I was already familiar with (Kohlberg, Gilligan, Milgram) and made me rethink aspects of it… made me question the story I had been given. I had some of these pieces already from other sources (Lakoff among them) but not put together in the fashion — the story — given in this essay. Thank you. I can already see that this will have some further influence in my teaching. I look forward to it.


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Hacks (these links don’t write themselves you know) Tom Stafford has a new e-book – The Narrative Escape, which is, in the author’s words “a long essay about morality, psychology and […]

  2. […] (cut price) Narrative Escape My ebook The Narrative Escape is available at a reduced price for a limited time. Publishers 40kbooks have got a February special […]

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