Seduced by the Narrative

As a practicing psychotherapist of nearly 25 years I have had a close up view of how people suffer, how they come to understand that suffering and how they change. Much of my early practice was organized around helping people construct a historically grounded narrative to understand their suffering and to free them up to behave in a way that would not recreate more suffering and actually improve wellbeing.

Sometime in the late 1990’s it became obvious to me that this intervention was at least not very efficient and at times distracting from the urgent work at hand for my clients. Clients and others had developed a compelling narrative for why they were being destructive, but they they showed little drive toward transforming that insight into action. Sally Satel, M.D. wrote in last month’s New York times (read it here) how she sees this everyday in her methadone clinic. She writes well and thoughtfully on this topic.

Currently, I still describe myself as a psychodynamic psychotherapist, but with an edge and an energy that focuses on quality of life in the now. I view people’s struggles as having their roots in developmental errors, injuries and neglect. But my focus is “how does that lead to you taking less responsibility or seeing that you have less choices for your wellbeing in the now?” I think I concluded somewhere in 2000 that people were finding ways to change their lives years before psychology was created and they were doing it will very little insight in some circumstances. It is that power that I am interested in harnessing for my clients.

That brings me to the topic of Same-Sex Attraction. It seems to me we have two compelling narratives which have, at best, incomplete scientific support: a) that SSA is biologically determined and b) that it is caused by a wound in the child’s relationship with their same sex parent.

So the questions for my readers today is:

How do these narratives interfere with our conversation about Same-Sex Attraction? and, in a related question,

How do these narratives limit our client’s ability to see themselves as fully formed persons able to choose their actions in the now?

Thanks for checking in on the blog today.