Psychotherapy Services in South West London

Transformative tales

There are basically two different modes of envisaging the world, the dialectical and the transformational or metamorphic. The dialectical thinks in terms of opposing forces and has stories of one force which must destroy the other. It must suppress, exterminate or annihilate and emerge victorious. Within the  metamorphic or transformational, a similar expulsion can take place, the threat or the beast can be expelled, but is not exterminated. Something else happens to the beast, good bits of the beast might remain. Clearly, the dominant mode in the world is the dialectical one. It is one that fundamentalists operate by whether they be Christians, Islamists or Zionists. It contains this idea of apocalypse, which is now so evident in popular entertainment. The violence in this dialectical kind of storytelling is completely excessive. In Lord of the Rings, for example, which is very plugged into Christian ethics, it’s easy to be caught up in the thrills of the hyperbole. At the story’s end, in the Promised Land, with the celestial bliss that comes when all enemies are bygone, you can feel great relief, a huge catharsis. Yet is utterly fraudulent. Nothing will ever survive so much catastrophe. There is close link as a family therapist working with families where there has been domestic violence and there is an ogre figure. There is something of acknowledging the complexity and agonies of the child’s emotions that doesn’t always fit with the apocalyptic, good versus bad frame. Their experience may be a loving this person who is also a threat, and maybe within that complexity sits the potential of acknowledging their lived experience and the possibility of them rewriting a new story for themselves. The redemptive quality of psychotherapy and storytelling allows entering into both/and domain with children, so that as a therapist you can say whatever it is that’s happened, whatever is your father or your mother has done that’s taken them to prison, there is still a quality I see in your memory of them that we need to preserve and allow to be voiced because otherwise it goes into this apocalyptic division.

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