In the song "New Alphabet," the Eels lead singer Mark Oliver Everett growls, "I'm changing up what the story's about." The song refers to that inner space, so-oft ignored, that has so much power over our well-being. The song makes changing fate sound like an act of will, and it is – the desire to look at your life and your choices through a different lens is in itself an act of change. Like all things psychological, this is easier said than done, often because the "what" is recognizable while the "how" is achingly obscure.
Remapping Your Mind finally gives a clear guide to that elusive "how" using the techniques of narrative therapy and reframing to assist people in shifting perspectives about incidents and actions from their past and present. An addiction to alcohol might be reconstructed as a medicine-gone-wrong via a fairytale narrative. Running away from home as a child might be reframed as going on a heroic journey. Other methods, such as movement, language change, and conscious application of placebo all appear, complete with anecdotes and step-by-step application.
The technique is fascinating, the science thorough, and the reasoning sound, but it raises questions about whether such methods are best left in the hands of professionals. Words are both poison and medicine. Neurolinguistic Programming and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are powerful techniques that bank on this.. At the same time, the necessary combination of neurological knowledge and skill with word use is not something taught over the course of one self-help book. These methods do, undeniably, lay a path for radical change.
Clergy and magical-minded people will find application for this work through age-old use of story, song, and movement – the components of ritual, already a healing and elevated art form. Creative recovery junkies will recognize some of their own techniques recommended. This covers not just the actions of real perspective improvement, but the science behind it. For anyone that sees the internal life as part of external wellness, this book provides many methods for making that so.
~review by Diana Rajchel
Authors: Lewis Mehl-Madona and Barbara Mainguy
Bear and Company, 2015
pp. 308, $18.00