The Healing Power of Stories- Whole, Broken, Bent or Healing

Written by Kim McCloskey

Timpchat- Timp Reflection With City-XLIn The Healing Power of Stories Daniel Taylor contends that the stories we tell can reshape our characters and add meaning to our lives by reminding us that actions have consequences. Not all stories are created equal and the better stories, he says, “should be truthful, freeing, gracious, and hopeful.” Stories have the power to heal, reenergize, or even harm our psyche depending on their type, of which there are four; whole, bent, broken and healing.

Whole stories portray good as good, evil as evil, and good wins. Most of the classics are in this category and most storytellers spend their time with these types of stories.

Bent stories portray evil as good, good as evil, and evil wins. Examples include many horror stories, pornography,  and even Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Bent stories can trap us and make us feel hopeless about the world in general.

Broken stories portray good as good, and evil as evil, but evil wins. Something is broken, not right, and needs to be fixed. Examples include Lord of the Flies and 1984. These stories, while not uplifting, have the potential to motivate us to heal something broken in the real world.

Healing stories portray good as good, bad as bad and can be either whole or broken stories. In a healing story the listener is profoundly moved, changed, or healed by the experience of hearing or reading the story. The answer to the problem is offered within the story itself, often in the ending.

In the stories that we tell and the stories we seek out we can look for truth as well as hope. This doesn’t mean that we avoid sad or tragic tales because they are seemingly hopeless. Sad, complicated stories can also elevate the listener if we realize that there are more complex ways to responding to them rather than by just simply being happy or sad. If a story can move us beyond our sadness to find empathy, healing, or a call to action then the well-told tale can continue to live on long after the story is over.

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4 Responses

  1. Lana Horrocks says:

    I have been a fan of Daniel Taylor for a long time and have read this book. His work has launched me as a Life Story Coach and I help people compile and tell their story. He is absolutely correct and I have seen it time and time again the healing power and peace that telling your story brings. Thanks for sharing this message.

    • Ndan says:

      My daughter is in rroevcey from an opiate addiction. She has been clean for one year. Prior to her rroevcey, however, I had to learn to stop enabling. In the beginning, she would manipulate me mercilessly, and I would allow her to come back home to live for a while. She would regroup between Roxy binging and then go right back out and binge again. At that time in my life my soul felt horribly vexed. I knew something was off. Finally the Lord led me to Celebrate Recovery, and I learned to stop enabling.

  2. Kim McCloskey says:

    Thank you, Lana, for helping others through your work.

  3. […] heard about The Healing Power of Stories by Daniel Taylor.  I’ll write some thoughts on it, but here’s a good summary.  Learning about the four types of stories has given me a framework to evaluate what I read and […]

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