Mythopoetic Perspectives of Men's Healing Work: An Anthology for Therapists and Others

By Edward Read Barton | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
The Use of Myth and Quasi-Myth in Therapy

Ross Thomas Lucas

Myth has been used as an adjunct for therapy for a considerable time, recently as an effective way of getting at material that might otherwise be inaccessible to the client. There are times when there is a need for a particular myth subject, but when the therapist does not know a myth to fit the need, it may be helpful to create a quasi-myth to meet the specific need.

It is a generally accepted fact that women are more likely to come for therapy than men. A common hypothesis is that men are more hesitant than women to talk about their feelings. Due to this hesitance to share feelings, one difficulty a therapist faces is getting men to move beyond their intellectualizations and rationalizations. To be successful in therapy, one has to move beyond the intellectual smoke screens. Myth provides one way of moving beyond the smoke screen and into the male psyche. A case study approach will be used to illustrate how quasi-myth works in a particular therapy case.

The client is a middle-aged man. He has been somewhat successful in life but is now experiencing a depression that saps his energy and leaves him feeling unfulfilled. As a result, he has entered therapy. Now, after several sessions where there appears to be little or no progress, the therapist is frustrated and thinking of making a referral. The stalemate in therapy is that no matter how the man is approached, change does not seem to occur. The man's psychological defense structures are such that he cannot see a different way of relating to the world than what he has always done. What can the therapist do to help this man see new possibilities?

Men are accomplished at defending themselves from change. They have an elaborate process of rationality and rationalizations to keep them from looking

-121-

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