The Good Story (Book review)
The Good story is written by Arabella Kurtz and J.M. Coetzee’s, it’s a dialogue between a psychologist having interest in literary studies and a novelist with an intense concern about psychology. Through exchanging their ideas Coetzee and Kurtz determined that how fiction and psychotherapy interact with each other. On the other hand they also discussed how psychotherapy is different from fiction in respect of external factors affecting the psychology. In spite of tremendous benefits which are gained by merging psychology and literary practice but still there are some challenges in joining the theoretical differences between these two zones.
In this story novelist is heavily affected by the experiences of his own life. He is attracted toward the dilemma that to what extent memories influence the personalities. As one’s life is full of so many memories to include in one story, that’s why writer has to inevitably pick one story that fits to his views. At this point, number of question arise like is this acceptable to make your on past. What we like to imagine we are? And to what extent external truth matters? All these question are part of memories itself.
In contrast Coetzee is troubled by the burden of memories. There might be a possibility to repress the memories which are troubling. But doing so, these repressed memories can cause psychological damage. For example if a criminal represses the memories of his awful crimes to live a good life, will not this suppression lead to emotional impairment? It exhibits the Coetzee believe in idea of natural justice. For example, a trope that recurs repeatedly in the plotlines of great fiction – the Mayor of Caster bridge or the tragedy of Oedipus Rex. Which means that bad actions committed in past can be repressed but in that case where is the truth. Truth cannot be denied only to protect ones psyche. Kurtz places it well saying that too self-serving will have a fragility and a brittleness. Any story of a person must be formed in best way and should have sufficient truth. There are various kinds of truths like poetic truth emotional truth and the objective truth. In some cases different kinds of truth don’t proliferate. In Kurt’s opinion therapeutic meeting is a creative process. The psychotherapist must be aware of internal rationalities and the frustrations of patients. Furthermore memories of past is constructed and mediated through narratives.
The disagreement between Kurtz and Coetzee are in an instructive way, disclosing that literary fiction and psychotherapy can diverge in this particular way. The point of divergence is actually truth for instance Coetzee believes in external truth on contrary Kurtz is agnostic for any external truth that is not related to narrative fictions like memory and psychotherapy. The basics of their discrepancy appears to be significant and understandable. Both the authors seem to have difficulty in finding common ground to address these questions using mutual terminologies. These disagreements advocate that only an overlap between psychoanalysis and fiction is not enough for concerns of narratives and self. There is a need of settlement between different philosophical grounds.
The exchange of ideas between two minds is a complete joy to read. These two specialists of their own fields are challenging each other and questioning each other’s abilities. The dialogues pieces from Kurtz and Coetzee are balancing and beautifying each other’s statements. Comparing examples from narratives and actuality in a way that has clearly tested the authors to re-evaluate their own thoughts and does the same to the reader as well. On contrary this book is not a completely unexperienced for the basics of psychotherapy. For a reader who is unaware of theoretical field this book presents the risk of proposing the discussions as demonstrative of the whole of psychology. This might be not the fault of the good story but a new book is needed to understand these question about theoretical psychotherapy. The most extraordinary thing about the good story is that it not only about the opinions of that Coetzee and Kurtz, but also enlightening the conflicts and ambiguities behind their words.