Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Psychotherapeutic Allegories and Some Metaphors of Harmony Restoration Theory and Therapy in an African Indigenous Folktale

Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Psychotherapeutic Allegories and Some Metaphors of Harmony Restoration Theory and Therapy in an African Indigenous Folktale

Article excerpt

Folktales, narratives, metaphors or stories are psychotherapeutic in nature especially when consciously applied in a therapeutic setting. They assist clients in achieving wholeness in the area of therapy focus. They also educate, entertain and perform other functions depending on the context they are used. While reading, listening to, or even writing their own stories, people tend to understand, feel, relate with and even see a part of themselves in stories. In Africa, when people are bereaved, they are told stories to assist them grieve positively (Nwoye, 2005). This paper elucidates the psychotherapeutic components of folktales or metaphors with focus on "Alabingo" (The land of Bingo), an indigenous (Igbo) folktale translated to English by Pritchett (2004). The stoiy shows cycles of harmony-disharmony within the endocosmos (relationship within oneself), mesocosmos (relationship between oneself and others) and exocosmos (relationship between oneself and higher order beings (God or gods) or other revered things) that the Chief of Bingo went through before he was able to marry a wife and select a heir to his throne. The harmony-disharmony cycle experienced by the Chief were teased out and were juxtaposed with the steps he took to facilitate the achievement of harmony his life. The importance of metaphors in psychotherapy and therapeutic characteristics of metaphors in Alabingo were highlighted and implications for psychotherapy practice in Africa were also elucidated.

Keywords: Psychotherapeutic, Folk-tale, Metaphors, Igbo, Harmony Restoration

Folk-Tales or Storytelling in Traditional Igbo Societies

To trace the history of storytelling is akin to tracing the history of human existence because people started using forms of stories and metaphors with the existence of language. For instance, forms of mythologies have been in place among the Australian aborigines before the appearance of the term "dreamtime" in literature in 1896 (Dean, 1996). The aborigines have stories "dated to thousands of years ago" (Pring, 2001, p. 3; Burns, 2005). According to Torres (2003, p.ll), "Greek fables appeared approximately two centuries before the birth of Aesop" and "the first printed versions of fables appeared in 1814." Furthermore, philosophers like Zeno of Elea who lived before Jesus Christ used paradoxes and fables to present their arguments and teach people. However, as a point of departure in this discourse, it should be noted that stoiytelling has always been seen as metaphors and metaphors started with language. The Bible for instance started in a stoiy form, "in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis l:lHoly Bible: King James Version (KJV)). Interestingly, most of the events of the bible have always been and are presently seen as folktales by the Jews because they experienced them (Exodus 13:26 KJV) and they have been passing the stories from one generation to another even before the bible was written. These points to the fact that stories have been in existence for thousands of years.

Folk-tales are a part of oral tradition (Torres, 2003; Dorji, 2009). Torres (2003:1) noted that: "folktales developed from the necessity of people to tiy to explain and understand the natural and spiritual phenomenon that occurred in their lives." Folktales which is also called folklores both reflect traditional stories originating from a particular place and passed down to younger generations by older ones. According to Ebigbo (2001, p. 21), folklore represents a penetrating picture of a given way of life; it reveals much about aspirations, values and goals of different peoples." Stoiytelling has been in practice in traditional Igbo societies before attempts were made to document such tales. Emenanjo (2004, p. ix) noted this by pointing out that, "story-telling was one of the principal avenues for informal education and entertainment for children in the traditional Igbo society." Award winning books written by authors of Igbo extraction like: "Things fall apart" by Chinua Achebe is replete with folk-takes told by adults to children by the fireplace at night under the moonlight. …

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