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The Many-Minded ManThe "Odyssey," Psychology, and the Therapy of Epic$
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Joel P. Christensen

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501752346

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501752346.001.0001

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Odysseus’s Apologoi and Narrative Therapy

Odysseus’s Apologoi and Narrative Therapy

(p.87) 4 Odysseus’s Apologoi and Narrative Therapy
The Many-Minded Man

Joel P. Christensen

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses how Odysseus, in the telling of his own tales, may function as a poetic representation of the stages of necessary therapeutic intervention, rather than a clinical record of a patient in treatment. It argues that Odysseus's narrative shares many features with one psychological intervention, the modern counseling approach called Narrative Therapy. The Odyssey shows Odysseus using his tale of travels in order to revise his own past among the Phaeacians, ultimately re-authoring his tale and creating a sense of identity that prepares him to act in the future. This process is therapeutic for the epic's audiences as well, insofar as it advances concerns about agency and human identity explored in the epic's first few books and models the ways in which identities and concepts of action are constructed through narrative. Through Odysseus's story, the epic affirms that people can be affected negatively by their experiences, that controlling narrative is an important part of agency, and that problematic worldviews can, in fact, be rehabilitated through action and speech.

Keywords:   Odysseus, Narrative Therapy, therapeutic intervention, Odyssey, agency, human identity, narrative

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