Using the Monomyth as a Therapeutic Tool
Recently, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published a report, Culturally Appropriate Storytelling to Improve Blood Pressure. Their research found:
African-Americans with uncontrolled high blood pressure benefited from an intervention using DVDs of real patients’ stories of how they dealt with their chronic disease.
It has generated a lot of interesting discussions. Should this research be replicated in different ways? Would it work with other communities? Other health conditions? Other ways of distributing the stories? Could stories of successfully controlling high blood pressure be shared on blogs or YouTube as effectively?
All of this got me thinking about Joseph Campbell’s idea of the Monomyth. The idea of the Monomyth is that there is a common structure to many stories from around the world. Put simply, a hero is called to some adventure, tries to refuse the adventure, often encounters some sort of supernatural aid that provides a talisman to help the hero in the adventure, and goes through many trials. After the hero completes the adventure they return to normal life and are expected to share the wisdom gained from the adventure with those around them.
Could the DVDs of those heroes who have been on an adventure of learning to control hyper-tension, be similar to the sharing of wisdom by heroes returning in the Monomyth? Could this apply to other health conditions? Could it be done via blogs and online videos?
As a controlled experiment, blogs and online videos might be more complicated. It might introduce additional variables making the research more complex. But, as part of a social movement to build healthy communities, it could be a powerful tool.
What do you think?