PreRamble: Quick post-note to my earlier post on storytelling — an interesting aspect of the practice that I hadn’t considered — the critical importance of the “personal narrative” as a foundation for psychological identity and well-being.
Anna Fels, a psychiatrist and faculty member at Weill Cornell Medical School presents a psychological angle on storytellingthrough an example of a woman who finds after 20+-years of marriage that her husband has been involved in a long-term extra-marital affair. Everything that the woman thought was true about her past, was now thrown into question –
“Insidiously, the new information disrupts their sense of their own past, undermining the veracity of their personal history.”
Fels discusses the ramifications of this disruption and the need for the creation of a new “historical narrative” — “solid ground” that can provide “an internal structure that helps us predict and regulate future actions and feelings.”
“Creating a coherent narrative of one’s life has long been seen as a central goal of psychotherapy … it creates a stable sense of self … Moving forward in life is hard, or even, at times, impossible, without owning a narrative of one’s past.”
The Take-Away: Add this to the list of ways that the dynamic of storytelling is central to our ability to know, understand and communicate about ourselves to ourselves as well as to the world.