Case History

[...] a trauma is not what happened but the way we see what happened. A trauma is not a pathological event but a pathologized image, an image that has become "intolerable" as Lopez-Pedraza puts it.

If we are ill because of these intolerable images, we get well because of imagination. Poesis as therapy.

The person having had his stories early has had his imagination exercised as an activity. He can imagine life, and not only think, feel, perceive, or learn it. And he recognizes that imagination is a place where one can be, a kind of being.

Therapy is one way to revivify the imagination and exercise it. The entire therapeutic business is this sort of imaginative exercise. It picks up again the oral tradition of telling stories; therapy re-stories life.

Of course we have to go back to childhood to do this, for that is where our society and we each have placed imagination. Therapy has to be so concerned with the childish part of us in order to recreate and exercise the imagination.

Case history is not the place of hang-ups left behind; it too is a waking dream giving as many marvels as any descent into the cavern of the dragon or walk through the paradise gardens. One need but read each literal sentence of one's life metaphorically, see each picture of the past as an image.

[Case histories] are subjective phenomena, soul stories. Their chief importance is for the character about whom they are written, you and me. They give us a narrative, a literary fiction that deliteralizes our life from its projective obsession with outwardness by putting it into a story. They move us from the fiction of reality to the reality of fiction.

They present us with the chance to recognize ourselves in the mess of the world as having been engaged and always being engaged in soul-making, where 'making' returns to its original meaning of poesis. Soul-making as psychological poesis, the making of soul through the imagination of words.

Perhaps we go [to analysis] to be given a case history, to be told into a soul story and given a plot to live by. This is the gift of case history, the gift of finding oneself in myth. In myths Gods and humans meet.

[James Hillman]
Healing Fiction, p.47-9

Related posts:-
Soul-Making
Memory Lane
Tell another story
Guiding Fiction

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