"Beyond dispositional traits and characteristic adaptations, human lives vary with respect to the integrative life stories, or personal narratives, that individuals construct to make meaning and identity in the modern world. Over the past two decades [1986-2006], the concept of narrative has emerged as a new root metaphor in psychology and the social sciences. Narrative approaches to personality suggest that human beings construe their own lives as ongoing stories and that these life stories help to shape behavior, establish identity, and integrate individuals into modern social life."
—Dan P. McAdams & Jennifer L. Pals, A New Big five: Fundamental Principles for an Integrative Science of Personality, 61 (3) American Psychologist 204, 209 (2006)
"Client problems, complaints, symptoms, and issues are really just stories about their condition, compressed into a narrative that is both limiting and revealing in what they include and what they leave out."
—Jeffrey A. Kottler, Stories We've Heard, Stories We've Told: Life-Changing Narratives in Therapy and Everyday Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015)
"[T]he client's narrative becomes the core of each therapy session. When a client tells a personal story, he or she gives special significance to certain events, which illuminates personal meanings. The therapist works collaboratively with the client to analyze the content and organization of these stories. As stories are told and retold over time, changes in the client's concerns, problems, and goals . . . forms the basis for the therapeutic process."
—from the cover, Hubert J.M. Hermans & Els Hermans-Jansen, Self-Narratives: The Construction of Meaning in Psychotherapy (New York: Guilford Press, 1995)
"[P]sychotherapy seems to be a beneficial process whereby clients adopt a new narrative about their problem that is more helpful than the story they told before . . . . To be sure, a major revision of one's life narrative can be a difficult journey that requires the guidance of a skilled therapist. There may not be one 'true' story that people must adopt to get better . . . ."
—Timothy D. Wilson, Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious 181 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 2002)
"The study of stories people tell about their lives is no longer a promising new direction for the future of personality psychology. Instead, personal narratives and the life story have arrived. In the first decade of the 21st century, narrative approaches to personality have moved to the center of the discipline."
—Dan P. McAdams, "Personal Narratives and the Life Story," in John Robins (eds.), Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research (New York: Wilford Press, 3rd ed., 2008)
"Our reality is created through our fictions; to be conscious of these fictions is to gain creative access to, and participation in, the poetics or making of our psyche or soul-life; the 'sickness' of our lives has its source in our fictions; our fictions can be 'healed' through willing participation, and, in this atmosphere of healing, they reclaim their intrinsic therapeutic function."
—George Quasha, "Publisher's Preface," to James Hillman, Healing Fiction ix-xii, at ix-x (New York: Station Hill, 1983)
"Patients use their stories in different ways. Some tell stories as entertainments to while, or wile, away the hour, others are reporters, others are prosecuting attorneys building a plaint. Occasionally a tale becomes wholly metaphorical in which every aspect of what-I-saw-yesterday—the large building site, the hard-hatted foreman in a control booth, the little girl in a shiny silver rain puddle in danger from a bulldozer, the passerby who intervenes—all refer as well to figures within the patient's psyche and their interplay.
A clinical is supposed to note the way stories are told. . . . A diagnosis is partly made on the basis of a person's style of telling his tale.
* * * *
The force of diagnostic stories cannot be exaggerated. Once one has been written into a particular clinical fantasy with its expectations, its typicalities, its character traits, and the rich vocabulary it offers for recognizing oneself, one then begins to recapitulate one's life into the shape of the story. One's past too is retold and finds a new internal coherence, even inevitability, through this abnormal story.
* * * *
The talk going on in depth analysis is not merely the analysis of one person's story by the other, and whatever else is going on in a therapy session—ritual, suggestion, eros, power, projection—it is also a contest between singers, reenacting one of the oldest kinds of cultural enjoyments that we humans know. This is partly why therapy pretends to being creative, and I use that word advisedly to mean originating of significant imaginative patterns, poiesis. Successful therapy is thus a collaboration between fictions, a revisioning of the story into a more intelligent, more imaginative plot, which also means the sense of mythos in all the parts of the story.
* * * *
The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives. For the manner in which we tell ourselves about what is going on is the genre through which events become experiences. There are no bare events, plain facts, simple data—or rather this too is an archetypal fantasy . . . .
* * * *
We can be as deluded about ourselves as about the world's facts.
* * * *
I need to remember my stories not because I need to find out about myself but because i need to found myself in a story I can hold to be 'mine.' I also fear these stories because through them I can be found out, my imaginal foundations exposed. Repression is built into each story as the fear of the story itself, the fear of the closeness of the Gods in the myths which found me.
* * * *
I have found that the person with a sense of story built in from childhood is in better shape than one who has not had stories, who has not heard them, read them, acted them, or made them up. . . . Story coming on early puts a person into familiarity with the validity of story. One knows what stories can do, how they can make up world and transport existence into these worlds. One maintains a sense of the imaginal world, its convincingly real existence, that it is peopled, that it can be entered and left, that it is always there with its fields and palaces, its dungeons and long ships waiting. One learns that worlds are made by words and not only by hammers and wires.
* * * *
The person having had his stories early has had his imagination exercised as an activity. He can imagine life, and not only think, feel, perceive, or learn it. And he recognizes that imagination is a place where one can be, a kind of being. Moreover, he has met pathologized images, fantasy figures that are maimed, foolish, sexually obscene, violent and cruel, omnipotently beautiful and seductive. Therapy is one way to revivify the imagination and exercise it. The entire therapeutic business is this sort of imaginative exercise. It picks up again the oral tradition of telling stories, therapy re-stories life. Of course we have to go back to childhood to do this, for that is where our society and we each have place imagination. Therapy has to be so concerned with the childish part of us in order to recreate and exercise the imagination."
—James Hillman, Healing Fiction 14, 15, 17-18, 23, 26, 42, 46, 47 (New York: Station Hill, 1983)
Jeremy Holmes, Narrative in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, 26 J. Med. Ethics: Medical Humanities 92 (2000) [online text]
Alice Morgan, Beginning to Use a Narrative Approach in Therapy, Int. J. Narrative Therapy & Community Work 2002 [online text]
Erik Sween, The One-Minute Question: What is Narrative Therapy?, Gecko, v2, 1998 [online text]
Vincent H.K. Poon, Narratives and Therapy: Correspondence, 53 Canadian Family Physician 1881 (2007) [online text]
Class Video 1: Interview with Steven Grosz: On Freud, Case Histories and Stories [12:18 mins.] [Steven Grosz is a psychoanalyst and author. He teaches clinical technique at the Institute of Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theory at University College London. He is the author of The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves.] [In class presentation can end at 5:07 mins.]
Class Video 2: Introduction to Narrative Therapy [2:02 mins.] [Renee Handsaker] [Handsaker is a counsellor & social worker]
Class Video 3: Narrative Therapy with Children [5:21 mins.] [Stephen Madigan] [presentation can end at 2:42 mins.]
Class Video 4: How Our Brains Build Our Autobiographies [5:41 mins.] [Antonio Damasio]
Class Video 5: Narrative, Mythology, and Meaning [4:23 mins.] [Robert Walter, President, Joseph Campbell Foundation] ["Human beings are hard-wired for narrative."] [class presentation ends at 0:50 mins]
Class Video 6: This World is Made of Stories [6:20 mins.] [Michael Meade]
Class Video 7: Stories in Our Lives [59:41 mins.] [Rachel Naomi Remen, an early pioneer in the mind/body holistic health movement] [presentation begins at 0:38 mins.; end in-class presentation at 6:04 mins.] [Remen goes on, in this video to talk about the "art of living" and much else]
Class Video 8: Jordan Peterson: "I Suffer Therefore I Am" [5:42 mins.] [end audio presentation at 0:18; for a longer presentation end at 2:06 mins.]
Class Video 9: Jordan Peterson on How You Inhabit a Story [14:15 mins.]
Reference (Stephen Grosz)
Stephen Grosz Interview
Reference (Antonio Damasio)
The Quest to Understand Consciousness
How Our Brains Feel Emotion
[distinguishing emotion and feeling]
What Role do Emotions Play in Consciousness?
What is the Self?
[13:47 mins.] Longer Version of the Presentation [49:38 mins.]
This Time With Feeling: David Brooks and Antonio Damasio
[poor quality of video]
Reference (Robert Walter)
On Being Possessed
[1:42 mins.] [what happens to us when primal urges or ignored or followed]
Purpose, Mythology and Religion
Reference (Michael Meade)
Occupy Your Soul
The Soul of Change
Note (Fate & Destiny): "Each man not only stands in the crossfire of his own wishes, drives, aspirations, ambitions, and feelings, but also is involved in the whole network of human relations to which he belongs in his family, his job, and society at large. The way in which he copes with all these internal and external influences determines his fate." ~Jolande Jacobi, Masks of the Soul 22 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publ., 1976)(Ean Begg transl.)
Michael Meade on Purpose and Calling
Michael Meade on Fulfilling the Genius Within
Michael Meade Reads from "Fate and Destiny"
Michael Meade on the Two Agreements
A Michael Meade Reading
Gifts and Wounds
[3:56 mins.] [Michael Meade]
Myth is the Ongoing Creation
[6:31 mins.] ["Myth is trying to bring the eternal into time."]
Why the World Doesn't End
Myth and the End of Time
[14:06 mins.] [Michael Meade]
[4:36 mins.] Pt2 [4:22 mins.] Pt3 [4:21 mins.]
Michael Meade on The Need for the Ecstatic
The Ecstatic Soul
Ecstatic Rituals that Bring Us Back to Soul
The Dance of Life
Reference (Jordan Peterson)
Stories and Myths
Jordan Peterson on Fictional Truth
How The Stories We Inhabit Determine the Destiny of the World
On How You Inhabit a Story
I Suffer Therefore I Am
Jordan Peterson: A Collection of Available Videos
Reference (Narrative Therapy)