Monday, February 16, 2004

Michael White, notes pp. 77-127

Interesting ideas I've found in my readings this week:

  • In a discussion that compares the logico-scientific and narrative modes of thought: "arguments convince one of their truth, stories of their lifelikeness."

  • On the same topic: "The narrative mode of thought, on the other hand, is characterized by good stories that gain credence through their lifelikeness. They are not concerned with procedures and conventions for the generation of abstract and general theories but with the particulars of experience. They do not establish universal truth conditions but a connectedness of events across time. The narrative mode leads, not to certainties, but to varying perspectives. In this world of narrative, the subjunctive mood prevails rather than the indicative mood."

  • Certain "mechanisms" recruit the reader in "the performance of meaning under the guidance of the text." These mechanisms "subjunctivize" reality--(1) presupposition (creating implicit rather than explicit meanings); (2)subjectification (depicting reality through the protagonist's eye); (3) multiple perspective (viewing the world through a set of prisms simultaneously).

  • "Lived experience in the "vital" consideration, and the links between aspects of lived experience are the generators of meaning."

  • The use of letters in narrative therapy. Both White and Epston use letters as a way to continue their work with clients. Epston writes about letters of invitation, where he works with the family to create a letter that invites a person who is refusing to come to sessions. White uses a technique to touch in with clients, reminding them of their work and asking strategic questions to keep them working. I was struck by the simplicity and honesty of their letters, although some (of White's, especially) seem a bit childlike and goofy. I guess the most important thing is their honesty and willingness to cross conventional boundaries. I like the idea of being able to reach across the boundary of distance and let another know we're continuing to remember them and the "problems" they're "influencing." I have used this method unknowingly in email, when I've continued to stay in touch with someone I've known through pastoral care. But I do agree with the authors that receiving a card or letter in the mail, address to you with only your name on it, has a way of making a person feel special--the intentionality and effort of the contact makes a difference.

Note: I haven't begun reading 101 Healing Stories yet...I'm behind on my own syllabus! I hope to get caught up in the next few days... :) k


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