Using the narrative in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy
The narrative, or the story being followed and invested in by the client is a concept often associated more with humanistic psychology and positive psychology because of it’s connection with eastern psychology. However the narrative can link very well to psychoanalysis.
Who am I, what is my archetype?
The archetype is sometimes the ideal person or concept that we strive to be. In his Red Book, Jung refers to having to slay the blond warrior and allowing oneself to become the authentic person. More generally the archetypes that correspond in our unconscious minds to ourselves and other key players in our lives are crucial to the make up of the narrative we follow.
The Lacanian mirror
To paraphrase the Lacanian idea, essentially there are three versions of us – the real us, who we are pretty much unaware of because we are not happy with it, the ideal us or “super-me” who is perfectionism embodied (and who corresponds in many ways to an archetype) and the mirror image who we see of ourselves in the eyes and reactions of others. Our narrative becomes focused on trying the third “me” to look like the “super-me” and this becomes a main part of the narrative.
The negative Narrative
In CBT having a negative narrative is often referred to as catatrophising. We ask “what if” repeatedly until we end up with disaster. “what if I get an unexpected bill, then what if I go overdrawn, then what if the rent check bounces, then what if my home is repossessed and I am living on the street with addiction issues”. What often happens is we approach a problem with the expectation that something bad will happen, then we become anxious and tense in anticipation, creating anticipatory anxiety.
Having a positive anticipation looks completely different. As a respected colleague John Parkin suggests in his mindfulness based teachings, what if you approach the problem with the idea that it will be really easy and straightforward. The first answer is – no anticipatory fear and anxiety to make you freeze up or become stressed. The second answer is that you will approach it in an optimum state of calm preparedness – flexible and calm, ready for anything even if things are not 100% perfect.
Object relations, the Kleinian model of relationships and our interactions teaches us about many of the problems with feelings of rejection, abandonment and conflict. The lessons we learn through these experiences often influence how we perceive and anticipate events, especially when they involve interacting with people.
Creating your own narrative
Creating your own narrative, and having the realisation that you have every right to create your own narrative is a very empowering concept. The narrative needs to focus as much as possible on the “real me” which in Lacanian theory we tend to suppress, enabling the concept of “authenticity” as much as possible. This means that we have an authentic concept of ourselves, and life around us, but have the courage to write the script of how that interaction might turn out. Using this model, and other techniques alongside it, the client can learn to make positive and proactive choices, reject old conditioning from others, and become aware that they are “good enough” – neither “flawed”, nor destined to strive for “perfectionism”.
Psychoanalysis in Edinburgh, Falkirk and Glasgow
Stuart trained in psychoanalysis and clinical hypnotherapy from 1993-1996 with over 200 assessed cases (over 1,000 client hours) and external assessment via the NVQ system. He graduated in 1996 with a diploma in analysis and hypnotherapy and an NVQ Level 4 Training and Development. Since graduation he has completed CPD training in a range of other models of psychotherapy, counselling, coaching, NLP and mental health, along with a MSc Psychology.