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The Hero's Journey and The Biofeedback Neurofeedback Practitioner's and Client's Stories

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Rob Kall     Permalink
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People have asked why I would merge the story and brain meetings I used to run, and what does story have to do with neurofeedback or qEEG. When I sat down to write this article, more than ever, the answers became more evident.

Karl Pribram discussed the "narrative I" describing how the brain functions in a narrative way. Lou Cozzolino, author of THE NEUROSCIENCE of Psychotherapy, discussed how, when the brain processes story, many parts of the brain are engaged.

Lewis Mehl Madrona discussed how stories are an alternate way to help heal clients, instead of drugs. Over and over again people who came to attend the Brain part of the meeting came up to thank me for including the story portion.

logo from story conference

Below is a short summary of my take on how story plays an integral role in biofeedback:

I like to use the monomyth, or hero's journey--the archetypal story of stories--to characterize to clients the path they can expect to walk as they go through the process of biofeedback, of personal change and growth.

The Hero's Journey or monomyth was described in Joseph Campbell's book, Hero With A Thousand Faces, as the story that is told in thousands of myths throughout the world in innumerable cultures. It is the story of change and rebirth, and so, it makes sense that it is an excellent teaching story for helping clients to see what they will experience as they go through the stages of healing and growth that biofeedback sets them on the path toward. One film-maker who adopted the hero's journey for his famous films was George Lucas, so I'll use Luke Skywalker's heroic journey for examples. (By the way, one of the speakers at StoryCon this year, Steve Barnes, just wrote an authorized by Lucas Star Wars Novel.)

Here's an abridged description of the hero's journey, in a nutshell, interspersed with explanation of how to tie it to the biofeedback process.

The Call: The story begins in the ordinary world, where the protagonist, the potential hero, receives a call to adventure--an invitation to respond to an opportunity. The protagonist has an opportunity to become aware of an opportunity to do something heroic. Often. Clients' symptoms provide their call to adventure, or their desire to change their lives or behaviors, or it could be that your client just decides to open his or her self up to change, or it may be a subtle discomfort or something lacking with the way things are. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is invited by Obi Wan Kenobe to go with him to rescue Princess Leah, and to learn the way of THE FORCE.

Rejecting the Call: Often, people will reject the call. Then, they end up living with the problem that the call to adventure has the promise to solve. Clients hold on to their headaches, anxiety, distractability, etc. Luke Skywalker explained that he had to help his aunt and uncle harvest the dehydrators. IF you reject the call, then worse things can happen. Symptoms get worse, or start affecting more parts of our lives. Luke Skywalker's aunt and uncle were killed the next day. Often, an initially rejected call, when worse consequences befall the protagonist, the decision to accept the call is made.

The Threshold: to accept the call, one must cross the threshold, leaving the ordinary world and entering a new world, where one can expect adventure, danger, and opportunities and the need to develop new tools, weapons, skills, knowledge, allies and other resources. Clients leave a collection of systems that they are accustomed to--health, symptoms, family relationships, job--with the potential that they will experience changes that could drastically effect any or all of those systems. Luke leaves the farm and goes, with Obi Wan Kenobe, first to another town, then to outer space. Often, once one crosses the threshold the new world starts out in a dark, ambiguous place.

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One theme has run through my work for the past 40 plus years-- a desire to play a role in waking people up, raising their consciousness and empowering them. I was the organizer founder of the Winter Brain, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology and StoryCon Meetings and president of Futurehealth, Inc., with interests in (more...)

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