Writers have to challenge their heroes and force them to face not only tough enemies but to confront their long-held beliefs and values.
Great storytelling isn’t just conflict between characters. It’s conflict between characters and their values. When your hero experiences character change, he challenges and changes basic beliefs, leading to new moral action. A good opponent has a set of beliefs that come under assault as well. The beliefs of the hero have no meaning, and do not get expressed in the story, unless they come into conflict with the beliefs of at least one other character, preferably the opponent.
John Truby. The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller.
In ACT, the therapist is engaging the client in a kind of contest between two main players. On one side is the client’s mind. By “mind,” we mean the set of rules and relations that the client uses to order the world. Because so many of these are culturally established, it can be clinically useful to speak of “mind” as if it is another person or something slightly external (as indeed it is in the sense of being a cultural intrusion into the individual). On the other side, there is the wisdom of the client’s direct experience. The client has directly contacted certain outcomes. The mind and experience are in fundamental conflict. The therapist’s job is to challenge the client’s reliance on verbal rules so that experiential wisdom can play a greater role. The challenge is to undermine ineffective rules and replace them with contingency-shaped behavior, accurate tracks, and augmentals linked to chosen values.
Steven C. Hayes, Kirk D. Strosahl, and Kelly G. Wilson. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: An Experiential Approach to Behavior Change