Optimism Essay Title Pages

"Optimist" redirects here. For other uses, see Optimist (disambiguation).

For the Sounds of Blackness song, see "Optimistic". "Positive thinking" redirects here. For songs of that title, see Positive Thinking.

Optimism is a mental attitude reflecting a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavor, or outcomes in general, will be positive, favorable, and desirable. A common idiom used to illustrate optimism versus pessimism is a glass filled with water to the halfway point, where the optimist is said to see the glass as half full and the pessimist sees the glass as half empty.

The term derives from the Latin optimum, meaning "best". Being optimistic, in the typical sense of the word, is defined as expecting the best possible outcome from any given situation.[1] This is usually referred to in psychology as dispositional optimism. It thus reflects a belief that future conditions will work out for the best.[2]

Theories of optimism include dispositional models, and models of explanatory style. Methods to measure optimism have been developed within both theoretical systems, such as various forms of the Life Orientation Test, for the original definition of optimism, or the Attributional Style Questionnaire designed to test optimism in terms of explanatory style.

Variation in optimism and pessimism is somewhat heritable[3] and reflects biological trait systems to some degree.[4] It is also influenced by environmental factors, including family environment,[3] with some suggesting it can be learned.[5] Optimism may also be linked to health.[6]

Psychological optimism[edit]

Dispositional optimism[edit]

Researchers operationalize the term differently depending on their research. As with any trait characteristic, there are several ways to evaluate optimism, such as the Life Orientation Test (LOT).

Dispositional optimism and pessimism[7] are typically assessed by asking people whether they expect future outcomes to be beneficial or negative (see below). The LOT returns separate optimism and pessimism scores for each individual. Behaviourally, these two scores correlate around r = 0.5. Optimistic scores on this scale predict better outcomes in relationships,[8] higher social status,[9] and reduced loss of well-being following adversity.[10] Health preserving behaviors are associated with optimism while health-damaging behaviors are associated with pessimism.[11]

Some have argued that pessimism and optimism are ends of a single dimension, with any distinction between them reflecting factors such as social desirability. Confirmatory modelling, however, supports a two-dimensional model[12] and the two dimensions predict different outcomes.[13] Genetic modelling confirms this independence, showing that pessimism and optimism are inherited as independent traits, with the typical correlation between them emerging as a result of a general well-being factor and family environment influences.[3]

Explanatory style[edit]

Explanatory style is distinct from dispositional theories of optimism. While related to life-orientation measures of optimism, attributional style theory suggests that dispositional optimism and pessimism are reflections of the ways people explain events, i.e., that attributions cause these dispositions[citation needed]. Measures of attributional style distinguish three dimensions among explanations for events: Whether these explanations draw on internal versus external causes; whether the causes are viewed as stable versus unstable; and whether explanations apply globally versus being situationally specific. In addition, the measures distinguish attributions for positive and for negative events.

An optimistic person attributes internal, stable, and global explanations to good things. Pessimistic explanations attribute these traits of stability, globality, and internality to negative events, such as difficulty in relationships.[14] Models of Optimistic and Pessimistic attributions show that attributions themselves are a cognitive style – individuals who tend to focus on the global explanations do so for all types of events, and the styles correlate among each other. In addition to this, individuals vary in how optimistic their attributions are for good events, and on how pessimistic their attributions are for bad events, but these two traits of optimism and pessimism are un-correlated.[15]

There is much debate about the relationship between explanatory style and optimism. Some researchers argue that optimism is simply the lay-term for what researchers know as explanatory style.[16] More commonly, it is found that explanatory style is quite distinct from dispositional optimism,[17][18] and the two should not be used interchangeably as they are marginally correlated at best. More research is required to "bridge" or further differentiate these concepts.[14]

Origins[edit]

As with all psychological traits, differences in both dispositional optimism and pessimism [3] and in attributional style [19] are heritable. Both optimism and pessimism are strongly influenced by environmental factors, including family environment.[3] It has been suggested that optimism may be indirectly inherited as a reflection of underlying heritable traits such as intelligence, temperament and alcoholism.[19] Many theories assume optimism can be learned,[5] and research supports a modest role of family-environment acting to raise (or lower) optimism and lower (or raise) neuroticism and pessimism.[3]

Work utilising brain imaging and biochemistry suggests that at a biological trait level, optimism and pessimism reflect brain systems specialised for the tasks of processing and incorporating beliefs regarding good and bad information respectively.[4]

Assessment[edit]

Life Orientation Test[edit]

The Life Orientation Test (LOT) was designed by Scheier and Carver (1985) to assess dispositional optimism – expecting positive or negative outcomes,[14] and is one of the more popular tests of optimism and pessimism. There are eight items and four filler items. Four are positive items (e.g. "In uncertain times, I usually expect the best") and four are negative items e.g. "If something can go wrong for me, it will."[20] The LOT has been revised twice—once by the original creators (LOT-R) and also by Chang, Maydeu-Olivares, and D'Zurilla as the Extended Life Orientation Test (ELOT). The Revised Life Orientation Test (LOT-R: Scheier, Carver, & Bridges, 1994) consists of 6 items, each scored on a 5-point scale from "Strongly disagree" to "Strongly agree".[21]

Attributional Style Questionnaire[edit]

This Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ: Peterson et al. 1982 [22]) is based on the explanatory style model of optimism. Subjects read a list of six positive and negative events (e.g. "you have been looking for a job unsuccessfully for some time"), and are asked to record a possible cause for the event. They then rate whether this is internal or external, stable or changeable, and global or local to the event.[22] There are several modified versions of the ASQ including the Expanded Attributional Style Questionnaire (EASQ), the Content Analysis of Verbatim Explanations (CAVE), and the ASQ designed for testing the optimism of children.[14]

Associations with health[edit]

Optimism and health are correlated moderately.[23] Optimism has been shown to explain between 5–10% of the variation in the likelihood of developing some health conditions (correlation coefficients between .20 and .30),[24] notably including cardiovascular disease,[25][26][27]stroke,[28] and depression.[29][30]

The relationship between optimism and health has also been studied with regards to physical symptoms, coping strategies and negative affect for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and fibromyalgia.

It has been found that among individuals with these diseases, optimists are not more likely than pessimists to report pain alleviation due to coping strategies, despite differences in psychological well-being between the two groups.[31] A meta-analysis has confirmed the assumption that optimism is related to psychological well-being: "Put simply, optimists emerge from difficult circumstances with less distress than do pessimists."[32] Furthermore, the correlation appears to be attributable to coping style: "That is, optimists seem intent on facing problems head-on, taking active and constructive steps to solve their problems; pessimists are more likely to abandon their effort to attain their goals."[32]

Optimists may respond better to stress: pessimists have shown higher levels of cortisol (the "stress hormone") and trouble regulating cortisol in response to stressors.[33] Another study by Scheier examined the recovery process for a number of patients that had undergone surgery.[34] The study showed that optimism was a strong predictor of the rate of recovery. Optimists achieved faster results in "behavioral milestones" such as sitting in bed, walking around, etc. They also were rated by staff as having a more favorable physical recovery. In a 6-month later follow-up, it was found that optimists were quicker to resume normal activities.

Optimism and well-being[edit]

A number of studies have been done on optimism and psychological well-being. One study conducted by Aspinwall and Taylor (1990) assessed incoming freshmen on a range of personality factors such as optimism, self-esteem, locus of self-control, etc.[34] It was found that freshmen who scored high on optimism before entering college were reported to have lower levels of psychological distress than their more pessimistic peers, while controlling for the other personality factors. Over time, the more optimistic students were less stressed, less lonely, and less depressed than their pessimistic counterparts. Thus, this study suggests a strong link between optimism and psychological well-being.  

In addition low optimism may help explain the association between caregivers' anger and reduced sense of vitality[35].

A recent meta-analysis of optimism supported past findings that optimism is positively correlated with life satisfaction, happiness, psychological and physical well-being and negatively correlated with depression and anxiety.[36]

Seeking to explain the correlation, researchers find that optimists choose healthier lifestyles. For example, optimists smoke less, are more physically active, consume more fruit, vegetables and whole-grain bread, and are more moderate in alcohol consumption.[37]

Translating association into modifiability[edit]

Research to date has demonstrated that optimists are less likely to have certain diseases or develop certain diseases over time. By comparison, research has not yet been able to demonstrate the ability to change an individual's level of optimism through psychological interventions, and thereby alter the course of disease or likelihood for development of disease.[citation needed] Though in that same vein, an article by Mayo Clinic argues steps to change self-talk from negative to positive may shift individuals from a negative to a more positive/optimistic outlook.[38] Strategies claimed to be of value include surrounding oneself with positive people, identifying areas of change, practicing positive self-talk, being open to humor, and following a healthy lifestyle.[38]

Philosophical optimism[edit]

Distinct from a disposition to believe that things will work out, there is a philosophical idea that, perhaps in ways that may not be fully comprehended, the present moment is in an optimum state. This view that all of nature - past, present and future - operates by laws of optimization along the lines of Hamilton's principle in the realm of physics is countered by views such as idealism, realism, and philosophical pessimism. Philosophers often link the concept of optimism with the name of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who held that we live in the best of all possible worlds, or that God created a physical universe that applies the laws of physics. This idea was famously mocked by Voltaire in his satirical novel Candide as baseless optimism of the sort exemplified by the beliefs of Pangloss, which are the opposite of his fellow traveller Martin's pessimism and emphasis on free will. The optimistic position is also called Panglossianism, after the character. The phrase "panglossian pessimism" has been used[by whom?][year needed] to describe the pessimistic position that, since this is the best of all possible worlds, it is impossible for anything to get any better. Conversely, philosophical pessimism might be[by whom?][year needed] associated with an optimistic long-term view because it implies that no change for the worse is possible.

Optimalism[edit]

Philosophical optimalism, as defined by Nicholas Rescher, holds that this universe exists because it is better than the alternatives.[39] While this philosophy does not exclude the possibility of a deity, it also doesn't require one, and is compatible with atheism.[40]

Psychological optimalism, as defined by the positive psychologistTal Ben-Shahar, means willingness to accept failure while remaining confident that success will follow, a positive attitude he contrasts with negative perfectionism.[41] Perfectionism can be defined as a persistent compulsive drive toward unattainable goals and valuation based solely in terms of accomplishment.[42] Perfectionists reject the realities and constraints of human ability. They cannot accept failures, delaying any ambitious and productive behavior in fear of failure again.[43] This neuroticism can even lead to clinical depression and low productivity.[44] As an alternative to negative perfectionism, Ben-Shahar suggests the adoption of optimalism. Optimalism allows for failure in pursuit of a goal, and expects that while the trend of activity is towards the positive, it is not necessary to always succeed while striving towards goals. This basis in reality prevents the optimalist from being overwhelmed in the face of failure.[41]

Optimalists accept failures and also learn from them, which encourages further pursuit of achievement.[43] Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar believes that Optimalists and Perfectionists show distinct different motives. Optimalists tend to have more intrinsic, inward desires, with a motivation to learn, while perfectionists are highly motivated by a need to consistently prove themselves worthy.[41]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^"Definition of optimism", Merriam-Webster, retrieved November 14, 2017 
  2. ^http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/optimism
  3. ^ abcdefgBates, Timothy C. (25 February 2015). "The glass is half full and half empty: A population-representative twin study testing if optimism and pessimism are distinct systems". The Journal of Positive Psychology. 10: 533–542. doi:10.1080/17439760.2015.1015155. 
  4. ^ abSharot, Tali (December 2011). "The optimism bias". Current Biology. 21 (23): R941–R945. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.10.030. 
  5. ^ abVaughan, Susan C. (2000). Half Empty, Half Full: Understanding the Psychological Roots of Optimism. New York: Courtyard. 
  6. ^Ron Gutman: The hidden power of smiling on YouTube
  7. ^Scheier, M. F.; Carver, C. S. (1987). "Dispositional optimism and physical well-being: the influence of generalized outcome expectancies on health". Journal of Personality. 55: 169–210. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1987.tb00434.x. 
  8. ^House, J.; Landis, K.; Umberson, D (1988-07-29). "Social relationships and health". Science. 241 (4865): 540–545. doi:10.1126/science.3399889. 
  9. ^Lorant, Vincent; Croux, Christophe; Weich, Scott; Deliège, Denise; Mackenbach, Johan; Ansseau, Marc (2007-04-01). "Depression and socio-economic risk factors: 7-year longitudinal population study". The British Journal of Psychiatry. 190 (4): 293–298. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.105.020040. ISSN 0007-1250. PMID 17401034. 
  10. ^Carver, C. S.; Scheier, M. F. (1998). On the self-regulation of behavior. New York: Cambridge University Press. 
  11. ^Hooker, Karen; Monahan, Deborah; Shifren, Kim; Hutchinson, Cheryl. "Mental and physical health of spouse caregivers: The role of personality". Psychology and Aging. 7 (3): 367–375. doi:10.1037/0882-7974.7.3.367. 
  12. ^Herzberg, Philipp Yorck; Glaesmer, Heide; Hoyer, Jürgen. "Separating optimism and pessimism: A robust psychometric analysis of the Revised Life Orientation Test (LOT-R)". Psychological Assessment. 18 (4): 433–438. doi:10.1037/1040-3590.18.4.433. 
  13. ^Robinson-Whelen, Susan; Kim, Cheongtag; MacCallum, Robert C.; Kiecolt-Glaser, Janice K. "Distinguishing optimism from pessimism in older adults: Is it more important to be optimistic or not to be pessimistic?". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 73 (6): 1345–1353. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.73.6.1345. 
  14. ^ abcdGillham, Jane E.; Shatté, Andrew J.; Reivich, Karen J.; Seligman, Martin E. P. (2001). "Optimism, Pessimism, and Explanatory Style". In Chang, Edward C. Optimism and Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. pp. 53–75. ISBN 978-1-55798-691-7. 
  15. ^Liu, Caimei; Bates, Timothy C. (2014-08-01). "The structure of attributional style: Cognitive styles and optimism–pessimism bias in the Attributional Style Questionnaire". Personality and Individual Differences. 66: 79–85. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2014.03.022. 
  16. ^Peterson, C. (2000). "The Future of Optimism". American Psychologist. 55 (1): 44–55. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.44. 
  17. ^Abramson, L.; Dykman, B.; Needles, D. (1991). "Attributional Style and Theory: Let No One Tear Them Asunder". Psychological Inquiry. 2 (1): 11–13. doi:10.1207/s15327965pli0201_2. 
  18. ^Zullow, H. (1991). "Explanations and Expectations: Understanding the 'Doing' Side of Optimism". Psychological Inquiry. 2 (1): 45–49. doi:10.1207/s15327965pli0201_13. 
  19. ^ abSchulman, P.; Keith, D.; Seligman, M. (1993). "Is Optimism Heritable? A Study of Twins". Behavior Research and Therapy. 31 (6): 569–574. doi:10.1016/0005-7967(93)90108-7. 
  20. ^Scheier, Michael F.; Carver, Charles S. (1985). "Optimism, coping, and health: Assessment and implications of generalized outcome expectancies". Health Psychology. 4 (3): 219–247. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.4.3.219. PMID 4029106. 
  21. ^Scheier, Michael F.; Carver, Charles S.; Bridges, Michael W. (December 1994). "Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism (and trait anxiety, self-mastery, and self-esteem): A reevaluation of the Life Orientation Test". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 67 (6): 1063–1078. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.67.6.1063. PMID 7815302. 
  22. ^ abPeterson, Christopher; Semmel, Amy; von Baeyer, Carl; Abramson, Lyn Y.; Metalsky, Gerald I.; Seligman, Martin E. P. (September 1982). "The Attributional Style Questionnaire". Cognitive Therapy and Research. 6 (3): 287–299. doi:10.1007/BF01173577. 
  23. ^Peterson, Christopher; Park, Nansook; Kim, Eric S. (February 2012). "Can optimism decrease the risk of illness and disease among the elderly?". Aging Health. 8 (1): 5–8. doi:10.2217/ahe.11.81. 
  24. ^Peterson, Christopher; Bossio, Lisa M. (2001). "Optimism and Physical Well-Being". In Chang, Edward C. Optimism and Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. pp. 127–145. ISBN 978-1-55798-691-7. 
  25. ^Scheier, Michael F.; Matthews, Karen A.; Owens, Jane F.; et al. (1989). "Dispositional optimism and recovery from coronary artery bypass surgery: The beneficial effects on physical and psychological well-being". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 57 (6): 1024–1040. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.57.6.1024. PMID 2614656. 
  26. ^Kubzansky, Laura D.; Sparrow, David; Vokonas, Pantel; Kawachi, Ichiro (November 2001). "Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full? A Prospective Study of Optimism and Coronary Heart Disease in the Normative Aging Study". Psychosomatic Medicine. 63 (6): 910–916. doi:10.1097/00006842-200111000-00009. PMID 11719629. 
  27. ^Giltay, Erik J.; Geleijnse, Johanna M.; Zitman, Frans G.; Hoekstra, Tiny; Schouten, Evert G. (November 2004). "Dispositional Optimism and All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality ina Prospective Cohort of Elderly Dutch Men and Women". Archives of General Psychiatry. 61 (11): 1126–35. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.61.11.1126. PMID 15520360. 
  28. ^Kim, Eric S.; Park, Nansook; Peterson, Christopher (October 2011). "Dispositional Optimism Protects Older Adults From Stroke: The Health And Retirement Study". Stroke. 42 (10): 2855–2859. doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.613448. PMID 21778446. 
  29. ^Giltay, Erik J.; Zitman, Frans G.; Kromhout, Daan (March 2006). "Dispositional optimism and the risk of depressive symptoms during 15 years of follow-up: The Zutphen Elderly Study". Journal of Affective Disorders. 91 (1): 45–52. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2005.12.027. PMID 16443281. 
  30. ^Patton, George C.; Tollit, Michelle M.; Romaniuk, Helena; Spence, Susan H.; Sheffield, Jeannie; Sawyer, Michael G. (February 2011). "A Prospective Study of the Effects of Optimism on Adolescent Health Risks". Pediatrics. 127 (2): 308–16. doi:10.1542/peds.2010-0748. PMID 21220404. 
  31. ^Affleck, Glenn; Tennen, Howard; Apter, Andrea (2001). "Optimism, Pessimism, and Daily Life With Chronic Illness". In Chang, E. Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. pp. 147–168. ISBN 9781557986917. 
  32. ^ abScheier, Michael F.; Carver, Charles S.; Bridges, Michael W. (2001). "Optimism, Pessimism, and Psychological Well-Being". In Chang, E. Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. pp. 189–216. ISBN 1-55798-691-6. 
  33. ^Bergland, Christopher. "Optimism Stabilizes Cortisol Levels and Lowers Stress."Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. N.p., n.d. Web. . http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201307/optimism-stabilizes-cortisol-levels-and-lowers-stress.
  34. ^ abScheier, Michael F.; Carver, Charles S. (April 1992). "Effects of optimism on psychological and physical well-being: Theoretical overview and empirical update". Cognitive Therapy and Research. 16 (2): 201–228. doi:10.1007/BF01173489. 
  35. ^López, J.; Romero-Moreno, R.; Márquez-González, M.; Losada, A. (2015-04-01). "Anger and Health in Dementia Caregivers: Exploring the Mediation Effect of Optimism". Stress and Health. 31 (2): 158–165. doi:10.1002/smi.2539. ISSN 1532-2998. 
  36. ^Alarcon, Gene M.; Bowling, Nathan A.; Khazon, Steven (May 2013). "Great expectations: A meta-analytic examination of optimism and hope". Personality and Individual Differences. 54 (7): 821–827. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2012.12.004. 
  37. ^Giltay, Erik J.; Geleijnse, Johanna M.; Zitman, Frans G.; Buijsse, Brian; Kromhout, Daan (November 2007). "Lifestyle and dietary correlates of dispositional optimism in men: The Zutphen Elderly Study". Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 63 (5): 483–490. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2007.07.014. PMID 17980220. 
  38. ^ ab"Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress". Mayo Clinic. March 4, 2014. Retrieved September 18, 2014. 
  39. ^Rescher, Nicholas (June 2000). "Optimalism and axiological metaphysics". The Review of Metaphysics. 53 (4): 807–35. ISSN 0034-6632. 
  40. ^Steinhart, Eric. "Platonic Atheism"(PDF). Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  41. ^ abcTal Ben-Shahar (11 March 2009). The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life. McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-0-07-160882-4. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  42. ^Parker, W. D.; Adkins, K. K. (1994), "Perfectionism and the gifted", Roeper Review, 17 (3): 173–176, doi:10.1080/02783199509553653 
  43. ^ abHorne, Amanda. "Positive Psychology News Daily". Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  44. ^Staff (May 1995), "Perfectionism: Impossible Dream", Psychology Today 
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. "Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress" Mayoclinic.org. Mayo Clinic, 4 March 2014. Web. 31 March 2014.
  • Quora. (n.d.). Retrieved Feb.7th, 2017 from Quora: https://www.quora.com/How-does-positivism-work

Further reading[edit]

  • Chang, E. (2001). Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ISBN 1-55798-691-6.
  • Huesemann, Michael H., and Joyce A. Huesemann (2011). Technofix: Why Technology Won't Save Us or the Environment, Chapter 7, "Technological Optimism and Belief in Progress", New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada, ISBN 0865717044, 464 pp.
  • Seligman, M.E.P., (2006). Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, Vintage, ISBN 1400078393.
  • Sharot, Tali (2012). The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain, Vintage, ISBN 9780307473516.

External links[edit]

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Optimism
Wikiversity has learning resources about Optimism
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Optimism.
Berlin Wall Monument (west view). The west side of the Wall is covered with graffiti that reflects the hope and optimism post-1989.
Optimistic Personality (modified from [3])

Frankenstein, the story of a mad scientist who brings the dead back to life, only to discover that he has created a monster, continues to be one of our lasting horror stories. On the 200th anniversary of its original publication, here are the nuts and bolts about the tale that forever touched on our fears about what can go wrong when people play God.

1. FRANKENSTEIN WAS WRITTEN BY A TEENAGER.

Mary Shelley’s teenage years were eventful, to say the least. At age 16, she ran away with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Over the next two years, she gave birth to two children. In 1816, the couple traveled to Switzerland and visited Lord Byron at Villa Diodati. While there, 18-year-old Mary started Frankenstein. It was published in 1818, when she was 20 years old.

2. THE NOVEL CAME OUT OF A GHOST STORY COMPETITION.

The Shelleys visited Switzerland during the “year without a summer.” The eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia had caused severe climate abnormalities and a lot of rain. Stuck inside, the group read ghost stories from the book Fantasmagoriana. It was then that Lord Byron proposed that they have a competition to see who could come up with the best ghost story: Byron, Mary, Percy, or the physician John Polidori. 

In the end, of course, Mary won the contest. Neither Byron nor Percy finished a ghost story, although Polidori wrote The Vampyre, which later influenced Bram Stoker while writing Dracula.

3. MARY SAID SHE GOT THE IDEA FROM A DREAM. 

At first, Mary had writer’s block, unable to come up with a good idea for a ghost story. Then she had a waking dream—“I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think,” she said. In the introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein [PDF], she described the vision as follows:

“I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life. … He sleeps; but he is awakened; he opens his eyes; behold, the horrid thing stands at his bedside, opening his curtains and looking on him with yellow, watery, but speculative eyes.”

Mary opened her eyes and realized she’d found her story. “What terrified me will terrify others,” she thought. She began working on it the next day.

4. SHELLEY WROTE FRANKENSTEIN IN THE SHADOW OF TRAGEDY.

Before she started Frankenstein, Mary gave birth to a daughter, Clara, who died six weeks later. (In fact, only one of Mary’s four children lived to adulthood.) Soon after the baby died, she wrote in her journal, “Dream that my little baby came to life again—that it had only been cold & that we rubbed it by the fire & it lived—I awake & find no baby—I think about the little thing all day.” This circumstance, as well as the suicide of her half-sister, must have contributed to the novel.

5. FRANKENSTEIN WAS THE NAME OF THE SCIENTIST, NOT THE MONSTER. 

In the novel, Victor Frankenstein is the scientist. The monster remains unnamed and is referred to as "monster," “creature,” "demon," and "it.” But if you’ve made the mistake of calling the monster Frankenstein, you’re not alone. Everyone from The Reef novelist Edith Wharton to the writers of the movie Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein has done it.

6. THE NOVEL SHARES ITS NAME WITH A CASTLE.

Mary said she made up the name "Frankenstein." However, Frankenstein is a German name that means Stone of the Franks. What’s more, historian Radu Florescu claimed that the Shelleys visited Castle Frankenstein on a journey up the Rhine River. While there, they must have learned about an unbalanced alchemist named Konrad Dippel, who used to live in the castle. He was trying to create an elixir, called Dippel's Oil, which would make people live for over a hundred years. Like Victor Frankenstein, Dippel was rumored to dig up graves and experiment on the bodies. 

7. MANY THOUGHT PERCY SHELLEY WROTE THE WORK.

Frankenstein was first published anonymously. It was dedicated to William Godwin, Mary’s father, and Percy Shelley wrote the preface. Because of these connections, many assumed that Percy Shelley was the author. This myth continued even after Frankenstein was reprinted in Mary’s name. In fact, some people are stillarguing that Percy authored the book. While he edited the book and encouraged Mary to expand the story into a novel, actual authorship is a stretch. 

8. THE BOOK WAS ORIGINALLY SLAMMED BY CRITICS.

When Frankenstein came out in 1818, many critics bashed it. “What a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity this work presents,” John Crocker, of the Quarterly Review, wrote. But gothic novels were all the rage, and Frankenstein soon gained readers. In 1823, a play titled "Presumption; or The Fate of Frankenstein" cemented the story’s popularity. In 1831, a new version of the book was published, this time under Mary’s name.

9. FRANKENSTEIN WAS CONSIDERED THE FIRST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL. 

In penning her gothic novel, Shelley was writing the first major science fiction novel, as well as inventing the concept of the “mad scientist” and helping establish what would become horror fiction. The influence of the book in popular culture is so huge that the term “Frankenstein” has entered common speech to mean something unnatural and horrendous.

Mary went on to write other science fiction, such as her 1826 short story Roger Dodsworth: The Reanimated Englishman, about a man who has been frozen in ice, and her novel The Last Man, about a survivor in a world destroyed by plague, from the same year.

10. THOMAS EDISON ADAPTED THE STORY FOR FILM.

In 1910, Thomas Edison made a one-reel, 15-minute film of Frankenstein, one of the first horror movies ever made. It was thought lost until it was rediscovered in the 1950s. Watch it above.

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