Narrative and Healing in Dynamic Psychotherapy: Implications for Culture Theory

  • Peter G. Stromberg
Part of the Culture, Mind, and Society book series (CMAS)


In dynamic psychotherapies, people work to address troubling thoughts, actions, and feelings by talking about themselves and their experiences. How can such talk ameliorate mental health symptoms? This chapter proposes an answer to this question that circumvents the central barrier to answering it, the assumption that the body and the mind are two separate systems. The chapter author calls upon recent work in cognitive science that emphasizes how human beings use their bodies and their environments in thinking; in such approaches mind and body are not separable. Such work helps us to conceptualize clients in psychotherapy as shaping the environments in which they dwell through the narratives they construct. The transformation that can occur through narrative is, from this perspective, in part a consequence of how persons constitute themselves differently in different environments.



This chapter grew out of a series of discussions with Rebecca Seligman, and I would like to thank her for introducing me to a number of the ideas I present here. Robert A. Paul read the manuscript and helped me to avoid some mis-steps in my discussion of psychoanalytic concepts. Finally, the chapter has benefited enormously from repeated careful readings by Naomi Quinn. She could not fix everything, however, and the chapter’s faults are my responsibility.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter G. Stromberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of TulsaTulsaUSA

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