Apply It: Positive Psychology


Fiction writers, particularly successful fiction writers, create stories that resonate with the readers.  This often occurs because the writers incorporate popular truths, concepts, or ideas in fictional settings.  Orson Scott Card is one such fictional writer.

In the early 1980’s Orson Scott Card created the Ender’s Game novel series, which has now become a classic within the science fiction genre.  The second book in the series, Speaker for the Dead, incorporates the tenets associated with Humanistic Psychology.  Specifically, individuals are able to achieve higher actualization, living selflessly, and contributing to society as a whole (Friedman & Schustack, 2012).  The original Speaker for the Dead is the main character from Ender’s Game, Andrew Wiggin.  As a boy, he unwittingly commits xenocide, killing an entire alien race known as the Buggers.  After the fact, Andrew (Ender) is able to locate a cocooned Bugger queen who shares a mental link with him.  He writes (tells) the story of the Buggers, i.e., speaking for the “dead” which, ultimately, results in humankind’s compassion for the dead alien race.  Speaker for the Dead is set 3,000 years after the original xenocide, during which Andrew has traveled through space, allowing him to experience minimal aging.  Additional alien races have been discovered and interaction regulated to prevent another unthinkable xenocide.  Also during that time, an entire movement rises calling themselves speakers for the dead, afforded the rights and privileges typically given only to religions or priests.  A speaker’s speech is “not given in order to persuade the audience to condemn or forgive the deceased, but rather a way to understand the person as a whole, including any flaws or misdeeds” (“Speaker,” n.d., p. 3).  This theme is central to positive psychology wherein the goal of psychology is understand the whole person, positive and negative (Friedman & Schustack, 2012).



Friedman, H. S., & Schustack, M. W. (2012).  Personality: Classic theories and modern research (5th ed.).  Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Speaker for the dead.  (n.d.).  In Wikipedia.  Retrieved July 25, 2013, from


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