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Record Type: Review ID: 137
The Therapeutic Narrative: Fictional Relationships and the Process of Psychological Change
Almond, Barbara, & Almond, Richard
|In this interesting book two psychiatrists devote a chapter each to nine novels, selected because they portray personality change growing out of interpersonal interactions in ways that are analogous to healing therapeutic narratives in psychoanalysis and other forms of psychotherapy. Just as the aim of psychotherapy today is to bring about personal growth and transformation, so are such changes the subjects of many novels. The novels they selected all met the following criteria: "the central characters become involved in a relationship with each other, and this relationship leads to change in one or more of them through a process that can be discovered and described from the text of the novel" (p. xi). This is only a step away from EHE narratives, which involve transformation stemming from an exceptional experience. I am not familiar with all of the books, but two of them are both among my favorites as a child and maybe even more so as an adult: The Secret Garden and Heidi. Both not only describe exceptional experiences but for me have been examples of literary EHEs. The novels discussed are Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, The Needle’s Eye, The Accidental Tourist, Silas Marner, The Secret Garden, Heidi, The Magus, and The House of Mirth. In a very interesting concluding chapter, "We Read, We Write, We Talk to Heal,": the authors analyze the components of literary therapeutic narratives. For example, they point out that "reading takes place in a space somewhere between inner and outer reality, a transitional space" (p. 169). And EHEs themselves tend to occur more often in transitional space. This book sheds light not only on therapeutic narratives per se, and therapeutic narratives in literature, but also the discussion and examples would be helpful to people writing or reading EHE autobiographies. There is a lengthy bibliography for those who want to pursue material relevant to therapeutic narratives in life and in the consulting room.|
|Publisher Information:||Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996. 204p. Bibl: 195-199; Chap. notes: 187-193; Index: 201-204|
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