Anaspect of a charismatic therapist is being able to relate to the patient,particularly if the therapist has had the same experience as the patient. Torelate to another individual is making a connection to understanding them andtheir story. One way a patient and clinician are able to relate is through theuse of metaphors. A simple example of a metaphor is the phrase, “George is alion” instead of saying “George is brave” (Witzum et al.
, 1988). Patients (and clinicians)use other metaphors to describe their situation or complaints, such as, “I feelcaged in”, “I’m stuck”, “I’m up against the wall”, “People look down on me”,and more (Witzum et al., 1988). Thesemetaphors are important, however, “The really crucial role they play is in thesystems . .
. We may call them extended metaphors or analogies” (Witzum et al.,1988). The language that is used by patients can be utilized by clinicians for thingslike guided imagery. This gave birth to the application of metaphoricnarratives, such as mythology and fables, in psychotherapy. These narrativesare typically short, and apply to the patient’s situation (Witzum et al.
,1988). The narrative must have certain functions, including: illustrativepoints, proposes solutions to problems, helps patients with self-discovery,plants ideas and increases motivation, decreases resistance, and reframes and redefinesthe problems (Witzum et al., 1998). Usingthese mythologies and fables for guidance or morality has been around forcenturies. Aesop’s fables speak on morality issues; Christ and the Biblicalprophets taught through parables and allegories; the Talmud writes aboutlegends; The J?taka tales, Indian origins, depicting incarnations of humans andanimals. Many of these tales, myths, and fables have some form of strugglewhere the individual needs to go on a journey to find oneself.
The narrativesprovide encouragement and hope throughout the challenging times. Further, sincemany of the narratives are incredibly relatable, they pierce one’s emotions andpermeate the mind and heart. The individual is left with no choice but toengage – to become entangled in this capturing story. When these stories aretold, patients come back the following week stating that they were unable toget the narrative out of their minds, and how their behaviour and/or thoughts haveimproved (Witzum et al., 1998).
Peopleseek therapy when they are lost, in need of guidance, and have hardship while theircoping mechanisms are failing. They are stuck and, either unable to continuetheir journey, or too afraid to enter a new, unknown area in their life. This iswhere the use of fables is vital in psychotherapy. Patients learn, from thetales, what those that came before them did successfully, and implement thesame steps.
And, in doing so, several things occur: (1) the patient decides tochange her view from a negative and unrealistic perspective, to a positive one;(2) the patient decides what kind of role to play; and (3) the patient has seena glimpse of her happy ending, or successful journey. Fable #1: The Knight in RustyArmorAknight, who fought enemies, slayed dragons, and saved princesses, thought ofhimself as a good, kind, and loving man. Unfortunately, he was so preoccupiedwith his knighthood that he neglected to care for and love his wife and son.
Hewas so captivated by his armor that he never took it off, until one day hiswife threatened to leave him if he didn’t take off his armor. At this point,his armor was stuck; he was unable to take it off. Only one man could help:Merlin the magician. For months, lost in the woods looking for Merlin, the knightfinally found him. When the knight told Merlin he had been lost for months,Merlin corrected him saying “All your life” (that the knight had been lost). Merlinasked: “You were not born with that armor.
You put it on yourself. Have you everasked yourself why?” to which the knight responded: “To prove that I was a good,kind, and loving knight.” Merlin asked: “If you really were good, kind, andloving, why did you have to prove it?”Toget rid of the armor, Merlin sent the knight on the Path of Truth; it was a narrowand steep journey to the top of the mountain. To get to the top, the knightneeded to get passed three castles. At this, the knight got excited – he mayget to slay dragons and save princesses! But Merlin cut him off, advising himthat he needed to learn to save himself first.
The castles are named Silence,Knowledge, and Will and Daring. Each castle the knight enters, he must learnwhy he is in that castle, and then he is free to leave. Merlin said: “There isa different battle to be fought on the Path of Truth. The fight will belearning to love yourself.”TheCastle of Silence was all about self-discovery and self-contemplation for theknight. After he leaves the castle, he realized that his helmet has fallenaway. The Castle of Knowledge had an inscription on its walls: “Have youmistaken need for love?” He discovered that he needed the love of his familybecause he didn’t love himself… the armor on his arms and legs fell away. The Castleof Will and Daring had a large dragon in front of it, named the Dragon of Fearand Doubt.
The knight was terrified, but he remembered that self-knowledgekills fear, because self-knowledge is truth, and “Truth is mightier than thesword.” With all his courage, the knight walked toward the dragon while thedragon was spitting fire at the knight. The closer the knight got, the smallerthe dragon became. The smaller the dragon became, the more seeds (doubts ofseeds) he spat at the knight. But the knight did not waiver. Finally,to complete the journey, the knight needed to climb over sharp rocks. When henearly reached the top, a large rock had an inscription: “Though this universeI own, I possess not a thing, for I cannot know the unknown if to the known Icling.
” And so the knight let go and fell into the abyss. Throughout the fall,the knight let go of all his judgments, excuses, and guilt, and accepted hisresponsibilities rather than blaming them on others. Then, he found himselfrising upwards. “He’d let go of all that he’d feared and all he had known andpossessed. His willingness to embrace the unknown had set him free. Now theuniverse was his to experience and enjoy.” His armor had now fallen offcompletely, and he was a new person. The story ends with the words: “TheBeginning” (Fisher, 1990).
The Knight in Rusty Armor’s theme is about howhappiness is finding oneself. But to find ones’ true self, he must go through manyobstacles in life to destroy all barriers that he created in order to feel safefrom himself. The knight has low self-esteem and resents himself. He compensatesthis by being “the best knight.
” He is literally and metaphorically hidingbehind his armor, which signifies superficiality and artificialness. He isrelying on the image he created for himself – the greatest knight – because heis too afraid to confront himself and his self-worth. This is seen in manypeople today. There may be too much darkness within the individual; he needs amask (or armor) to hide behind so that he does not have to face who he is. The fearthe knight faced when he was marching towards the dragon vanished when herealized he was the one who allowed fear and doubt into his mind. The dragon essentiallyrepresented the knight’s false self that is imprisoned. This especially appliesto anxiety.
Anxiety is based on dishonesties that pervade one’s mind, leading toconstant doubt and fear. The knight discovered that the dragon was not actuallyreal; it was his mind – his doubt and fear – making the dragon real, just asanxiety does