Lawrence Rubin Ph.D, ABPP, LMHC, RPT-S

Popular Culture Meets Psychology

Can Metaphors Save Us?

Can stories save us from psychological apocalypse?

Posted Aug 29, 2018

In preparation for an upcoming interview with gifted clinician and story teller Joyce Mills, creator of StoryPlay, an Eriksonian Indirective Model of Play Therapy; I reintroduced myself to her seminal volume, Therapeutic Metaphors for Children and the Child Within, now in its second edition. In the course of engaging with it and learning more about her innovative therapeutic approach to liberating stories of resilience in children, particularly those impacted by trauma, I had a reawakening to the power of story telling in childhood, and how I have used it therapeutically in my own practice as well as in my own life. Seems I am always scouring the metaphoric horizon for ways to make sense of the trials and tribulations of my life, that of my family, and at times of our society and civilization.

And this brings me to this point in our history, when we are bombarded daily by messages of impending nuclear devastation, financial collapse, invasions by hoards of murderous aliens, unheeded warnings of potentially calamitous climate change, and who knows, perhaps the revivification of long-dormant, polar-concealed devastating mega viruses. Apocalyptic science fiction story lines have melded with the six-o'clock news, leaving us all wondering not for whom, but when the bell will toll for us all.

This bleak and impending Armageddon is of course being blamed on political factions and demonic public figures who would have us believe that they and only they are the road to salvation: Come with me if you want to live!

So, in the sprit of those darkly prophetic credit card commercials that ask us, "What's in your wallet?" I ask you as fellow lifeboat passengers, "What metaphor is in your psyche?" What spin or twist or narrative will keep you afloat as the swells of Armageddon build in the distance?      

  • Is this the dawn of a new age an inflection point, a transition, a societal metamorphosis?
  • Have we been summoned to the cosmic principal's office — a moment of accountability?
  • Are we a lost and wandering tribe, looking to our leader(s) to point the way out?   
  • Has our civilization been a grand experiment, a mere N of 1?

Or perhaps you have a metaphor that gets you through the night and helps you make sense of it all, if there is any sense at all to be made...