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A Quick Note on Narrative Theory

He tells me that he’s just working on himself right now. Despite my initial gut response to assume he’s avoiding his feelings and hiding behind menial projects, for a second, in my mind, I humor the notion.


“How are you working on The Self?” I ask Johnny.


“ I just want to really know myself, you know” he says. “ Be one with it, and feel complete and whole.”


I ponder his question for bit. He’s assuming the self is knowable. I can’t blame him. His thought process is bound to an entire era of modern psychodynamics which insisted an individual be made free from the punitive parental prohibitions which blocked the self from full expression. Critics of modern thought would argue the notion of setting a The Self free, in a static universal world, did more to reinforce the metanarratives of giant systems (i.e. corporate, postindustrial) that exist only to legitimize themselves. Modern psychodynamic therapy would only serve to mold an autonomous free-thinking individual into a happy consumer, the quest for ultimate self-expression a distraction from a deeper truth. The idea that his sense of self is not enough would continue to oppress him.


Because Johnny doesn’t feel good in his own reality it only makes sense to talk about change. Change is desirable when the status quo is riddled with unbearable pain or suffering. Virginia Satir, the mother of experiential therapy, might ask where one can find the power to catalyze chaos. Chaos, a necessary and natural bridge to a new status quo. An excellent question but first let’s examine the idea of power itself. One of Narratives core principles speaks to the inherent nature of power as an undeniable and pervasive force. A Narrative therapist believes that power can and should be used as a benevolent force, wherein subjugation is advocacy. Therefore, any submission to an individual’s story should only be submitted to only if it is good, and out of choice. It is a matter of justice.


To rewrite a singular story with Narrative theory, a person must accept the possibility of many selves, and many worlds in which they inhabit. This is particularly difficult because to give up one’s reality, however painful, is the accept uncertainty. Most everyone I know is averse to uncertainty. The next stop would be to ask “What world is this? What is there to do in it, and which self is to do it?”


Let’s suppose Johnny where to dive deeper into his own words, and deliver as accurately as possible the epistemology of his belief system which creates a reality where his singular self is not good enough as it is. That is where his Narrative journey would begin. It would be his first step in finding the neglected stories he’s shut in the back room of his mind, the stories in which his desired reality is closer to his experienced one. Furthermore, he would begin to acquire the invaluable skill of authoring his own stories and gaining the power to adapt to the ever-changing mysterious energies of life, the universe, and everything.




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