Healing the Mind through the Power of Story

Healing the Mind through the Power of Story

The Promise of Narrative Psychiatry

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Psychiatry that recognizes the essential role of community in creating a new story of mental health

• Provides a critique of conventional psychiatry and a look at what mental health care could be

• Includes stories used in the author’s healing practice that draw from traditional cultures around the world

Conventional psychiatry is not working. The pharmaceutical industry promises it has cures for everything that ails us, yet a recent study on antidepressants showed there is no difference of success in prescribed pharmaceuticals from placebos when all FDA-reported trials are considered instead of just the trials published in journals. Up to 80 percent of patients with bipolar depression remain symptomatic despite conventional treatment, and 10 to 20 percent of these patients commit suicide.

In Healing the Mind through the Power of Story, Dr. Mehl-Madrona shows what mental health care could be. He explains that within a narrative psychiatry model of mental illness, people are not defective, requiring drugs to “fix” them. What needs “fixing” is the ineffective stories they have internalized and succumbed to about how they should live in the world. Drawing on traditional stories from cultures around the world, Dr. Mehl-Madrona helps his patients re-story their lives. He shows how this innovative approach is actually more compatible with what we are learning about the biology of the brain and genetics than the conventional model of psychiatry. Drawing on wisdom both ancient and new, he demonstrates the power and success of narrative psychiatry to bring forth change and lasting transformation.
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  • Bear & Company | 
  • 416 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781591430957 | 
  • June 2010
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE NARRATIVE MOVEMENT IN PSYCHIATRY AND MENTAL HEALTH

The stories we hear as children are captured forever within our nervous systems. These stories contain information about the meaning of our lives, what value we have, what is respectable and what is not, what is ethical and what is not, and how to behave in all the situations we encounter. This is why psychiatry is the science of stories and storytelling, because our social interaction is fully storied. Stories guide us all the way.

I will go further and argue that stories (and the social relationships in which they are told) shape our brains.... see more

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