Thursday, May 23, 2013
Coline Covington - Narrative in Analytic Process
"The construction of narrative is closely linked to identity formation, or the establishment of a sense of self, with its attendant notions of history and continuity and lineal development. Story-making within analysis is seen as being at the heart of symbolic process and of psychic change. The story serves as a form of transitional object combining factual with imaginal, internal and external realities, and reflects our desire to internalize one another." (p. 405)
"Jung points to the archetypal foundation or origin of myth, as a form of story, implying that the narrative process is fundamentally archetypal. Jung makes the distinction with regard to myth that mythological motifs were not invented in the sense of having been created or made, but were pre-existing ideas waiting to be found or revealed. He refers to the Latin derivation of invent, invenire, meaning, ‘in the first place, to “come upon” or “to find” something and, in the second, to find something by seeking for it. In the latter case, it is not a matter of finding or coming upon something by mere chance, for there is a sort of foreknowledge or a faint inkling of the thing you are going to find’ (Jung 1977, para. 549). If we accept that what is going on in analysis is a process of inventing or discovering a story, or a series or inter-related stories, by which means a sense of self as agent can be found and established, we must ask not only how the story comes into being in the first place but also why it is that some stories (i.e. interpretations) appear to have a transmutative effect while others do not. Although we can see the destructive processes that are at work in the absent story, it is important to stress that the presence or creation of story does not in itself lead either to what Kohut refers to as ‘continuity of self’ or to psychic change.
There is an inbuilt tendency — indeed necessity — within analysis to describe and conceptualize the process as a narrative. The danger attached to this is that inconsistencies are smoothed over for the sake of maintaining the narrative form, that is, one narrative may take precedence over others and become central, thus distorting or inhibiting the emergence of what may turn out to be a ‘truer’ story. For this reason I think it is only possible to talk about degrees of truth in relation to story. In questioning the truth value of story, in his book, Rewriting the Self, Freeman points out that the assumption of what is ‘true’ does not necessarily entail correspondence with a former reality. He goes on to deal with the question of how we can then differentiate between so-called true and so-called false stories. Again truth is conceived other than in terms of correspondence (i.e. to the past). Consistently with the modernist concept of transference, he understands that the aesthetic impact of a given interpretation of reality within a narrative whole constitutes its own truth value. In my view, this is determined in the analytic relationship by the empathic capacity and expression of the analyst." (p. 411)
Coline Covington (1995). No Story, No Analysis?: The Role of Narrative in Interpretation. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 40, pp. 405-417