Life Stories and Personal Mythmaking


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Abstract

The compelling nature of life stories is apparent in the Psalmist's words: “We spend our years as a tale that is told.” The stories we tell about ourselves not only communicate an important truth concerning our psychological and cultural make-up, they also create a vital link between those who participate in such an exchange. Joseph Campbell has described in depth how the monomyth, or hero's journey, represents a theme common to all the world's myths. He connects the pattern of the monomyth to the contemporary world by saying that our lives, too, reflect this one theme, this one story. This article explores how individual life stories mirror the timeless themes, or motifs, found in the monomyth. It is described how we can make the transition from writing autobiographically to writing mythologically through the use of personal mythmaking worksheets based on the pattern of the monomyth. Three personal myths are used to illustrate how individual lives follow this pattern. Finally, personal mythmaking is defined, and the link between the personal myth and universal human emotions and needs is addressed.

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