Psychology as Storytelling - Part I

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

But perhapsrepparttar distinction is artificial. Perhapsrepparttar 126341 mind is simplyrepparttar 126342 way we experience our brains. Endowed withrepparttar 126343 gift (or curse) of introspection, we experience a duality, a split, constantly being both observer and observed. Moreover, talk therapy involves TALKING - which isrepparttar 126344 transfer of energy from one brain to another throughrepparttar 126345 air. This is directed, specifically formed energy, intended to trigger certain circuits inrepparttar 126346 recipient brain. It should come as no surprise if it were to be discovered that talk therapy has clear physiological effects uponrepparttar 126347 brain ofrepparttar 126348 patient (blood volume, electrical activity, discharge and absorption of hormones, etc.).

All this would be doubly true ifrepparttar 126349 mind was, indeed, only an emergent phenomenon ofrepparttar 126350 complex brain - two sides ofrepparttar 126351 same coin.

Psychological theories ofrepparttar 126352 mind are metaphors ofrepparttar 126353 mind. They are fables and myths, narratives, stories, hypotheses, conjunctures. They play (exceedingly) important roles inrepparttar 126354 psychotherapeutic setting but not inrepparttar 126355 laboratory. Their form is artistic, not rigorous, not testable, less structured than theories inrepparttar 126356 natural sciences. The language used is polyvalent, rich, effusive, and fuzzy in short, metaphorical. They are suffused with value judgements, preferences, fears, post facto and ad hoc constructions. None of this has methodological, systematic, analytic and predictive merits.

Still,repparttar 126357 theories in psychology are powerful instruments, admirable constructs ofrepparttar 126358 mind. As such, they are bound to satisfy some needs. Their very existence proves it.

The attainment of peace of mind is a need, which was neglected by Maslow in his famous rendition. People will sacrifice material wealth and welfare, will forgo temptations, will ignore opportunities, and will put their lives in danger just to reach this bliss of wholeness and completeness. There is, in other words, a preference of inner equilibrium over homeostasis. It isrepparttar 126359 fulfilment of this overriding need that psychological theories set out to cater to. In this, they are no different than other collective narratives (myths, for instance).

In some respects, though, there are striking differences:

Psychology is desperately trying to link up to reality and to scientific discipline by employing observation and measurement and by organizingrepparttar 126360 results and presenting them usingrepparttar 126361 language of mathematics. This does not atone for its primordial sin: that its subject matter is ethereal and inaccessible. Still, it lends an air of credibility and rigorousness to it.

The second difference is that while historical narratives are "blanket" narratives psychology is "tailored", "customized". A unique narrative is invented for every listener (patient, client) and he is incorporated in it asrepparttar 126362 main hero (or anti-hero). This flexible "production line" seems to berepparttar 126363 result of an age of increasing individualism. True,repparttar 126364 "language units" (large chunks of denotates and connotates) are one andrepparttar 126365 same for every "user". In psychoanalysis,repparttar 126366 therapist is likely to always employrepparttar 126367 tripartite structure (Id, Ego, Superego). But these are language elements and need not be confused withrepparttar 126368 plots. Each client, each person, and his own, unique, irreplicable, plot.


Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and

Visit Sam's Web site at

A Letter about Trust

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

As opposed to popular opinion, trust must be put torepparttar test, lest it goes stale and staid. We are all somewhat paranoid. The world around us is so complex, so inexplicable, so overwhelming that we find refuge inrepparttar 126340 invention of superior forces. Some forces are benign (God) some arbitrarily conspiratorial in nature. There must be an explanation, we feel, to all these amazing coincidences, to our existence, to events around us.

This tendency to introduce external powers and ulterior motives into our reality permeates human relations, as well. We gradually grow suspicious, inadvertently hunt for clues of infidelity or worse, masochistically relieved, even happy when we find some.

The more often we successfully testrepparttar 126341 trust we had established,repparttar 126342 stronger our pattern-prone brain embraces it. Constantly in a precarious balance, our brain needs and devours reinforcements. Such testing should not be explicit but circumstantial.

Your husband could easily have had a mistress or your partner could easily have stolen your money and, behold, they haven't. They passedrepparttar 126343 test. They resistedrepparttar 126344 temptation offered to them by circumtance.

Trust is based onrepparttar 126345 ability to predictrepparttar 126346 future. It is not so muchrepparttar 126347 act of betrayal that we react to as it isrepparttar 126348 feeling thatrepparttar 126349 very foundations of our world are crumbling, that it is no longer safe because it is no longer predictable. We are inrepparttar 126350 throes of death of one theory andrepparttar 126351 birth of another, as yet untested.

Here is another important lesson: whateverrepparttar 126352 act of betrayal (withrepparttar 126353 exception of grave criminal corporeal acts) it is frequently limited, confined, and negligible. Naturally, we tend to exaggeraterepparttar 126354 importance ofrepparttar 126355 event. This serves a double purpose: indirectly it aggrandises us. If we are "worthy" of such an unprecedented, unheard of, major betrayal we must be worthwhile and unique. The magnitude ofrepparttar 126356 betrayal reflects on us and re-establishesrepparttar 126357 fragile balance of powers between us andrepparttar 126358 universe.

The second purpose of exaggeratingrepparttar 126359 act of perfidy is simply to gain sympathy and empathy mainly from ourselves, but also from others. Catastrophes are a dozen a dime and in today's world it is difficult to provoke anyone to regard your personal disaster as anything exceptional.

Amplifyingrepparttar 126360 event has, therefore, some very utilitarian purposes. But, finally,repparttar 126361 emotional lie poisonsrepparttar 126362 mental circulation ofrepparttar 126363 liar. Puttingrepparttar 126364 event in perspective goes a long way towardsrepparttar 126365 commencement of a healing process. No betrayal stampsrepparttar 126366 world irreversibly or eliminates other possibilities, opportunities, chances and people. Time goes by, people meet and part, lovers quarrel and make love, dear ones live and die. It isrepparttar 126367 very essence of time that it reduces us all torepparttar 126368 finest dust. Our only weapon however crude and naive against this unstoppable process is to trust each other.

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and

Visit Sam's Web site at

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