I just finished writing a paper on family narrative therapy and it got me thinking about the nature of reality. Here’s an excerpt:
Narrative therapy is based on social constructionist thinking, which purports that meaning is not something that simply exists; rather, we construct meaning and our specific ways of understanding the world based on the interactions we have with our environment. The consequences we experience from these interactions teach us, at a young age, certain principles and established truths about the reality in which we live. These established truths then influence the way in which we interact with our environment in the future. Subsequent experiences can challenge, confirm, or alter our understanding and continue to construct meaning. Often we as human beings are indoctrinated into narrow ways of thinking about ourselves and the possibilities that exist for us. The meaning that we construct based on our experiences can often result in narratives or schematic frameworks that we utilize to continue interpreting future experiences, thereby extending the problem-saturated story. We also are often influenced by oppressive cultural narratives, which tell us how to properly function in gender and various other roles. When the stories that we adopt lead us to perceive experience in unhelpful ways, we tend to get bogged down with problems. The goal in narrative therapy, then, is to alter these stories in a way that results in more healthy and productive ways of interpreting experience.
Merriam-Webster.com defines neurosis, in part, as a mental disorder accompanied by a less distorted perception of reality than psychosis. Which, to me, begs a question. If we all perceive reality in slightly different ways because of our experience-based schematic framework, aren’t we all just a little bit neurotic?