What can literature teach us about acceptance and commitment therapy, and living a better life?

What we are seeking is the development of a coherent and progressive contextual behavioral science that is more adequate to the challenges of the human condition.

Steven C. Hayes, PhD. Nevada Foundation Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada, widely regarded as the founder of acceptance and commitment therapy, author of hundreds of scientific articles and dozens of books, including Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

The Human Condition by MagritteLiterature – any art for that matter – is all about exploring the challenges of the human condition, the things that make us uniquely human.

Since I first heard about acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and relational frame theory (RFT), I was struck by how much they have in common with literature and even how much of the advice can apply to writing; there’s a lot of talk about metaphors, storytelling and inner voices in acceptance and commitment therapy and relational frame theory.

I’m using this site to illustrate the similarities between fiction and acceptance and commitment therapy with examples from literature, films, writing guides, TV and the web. And maybe, someday, I’ll figure out a use for it all.

One third, more or less, of all the sorrow that the person I think I am must endure is unavoidable. It is the sorrow inherent in the human condition, the price we must pay for being sentient and self-conscious organisms, aspirants to liberation, but subject to the laws of nature and under orders to keep on marching, through irreversible time, through a world wholly indifferent to our well-being, toward decrepitude and the certainty of death. The remaining two thirds of all sorrow is homemade and, so far as the universe is concerned, unnecessary.’

Aldous Huxley (1962) Island. London: Harper and Brothers.

Please note: the texts reproduced here are intended for educational purposes only.

For more information, or to simply get in touch, email me at jim [at] thefictiontherapist.com, or fill out the form below:


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