Giampaolo Salvatore, Giancarlo Dimaggio, Dario Catania & Cristina Azzara
Centro di Psicoterapia Cognitiva, Rome, Italy




Story-telling is one of the psyche's basic functions. All of us organize our experiences in the form of narratives, to give meaning to events, guide our actions in relationships and choices, and make our self-experience coherent. In psychotherapy, patients often tell stories that are not adequate to give meaning and coherence to the events nor useful as a map of the world, because they are structurally impoverished. We try to systematize the criteria that describe impoverished narratives. A fundamental criterion is that these narratives do not present a dialogue among characters sufficiently developed, considering every character expressing his own point of view, like a distinct story-teller's self. We try to study what clinician and patient experience in the therapeutic relation (starting from a neuropsychological point of view), how the clinician plans the treatment, how he agrees on it with his patient, if the source of information itself is impoverished. In this study we will describe the story of one patient whose narratives - collected in diary form - were impoverished, according to our criteria. We will select some diary fragments and analyze their structure. We will show (1) the changes of narrative structural elements, (2) the relation between these changes and the clinical evolution and outcome. We will present some theoretical conclusions about the way impoverished narratives sustain psychopathology.