Author Preface

Personal Mythology
Discovering the Guiding Stories of Your Past—
Creating a Vision for Your Future


Author Preface to the Third Edition

We have, since the mid-1970s, had the privilege of escorting several thousand people into the mysteries and wonders of their guiding mythologies. Your personal mythology operates “behind the scenes” in your psyche. It shapes your every thought, perception, and action, bringing them to conform to an underlying story line. Most people cannot quite articulate this unfolding internal mythology, but it nonetheless directs the course of their lives.

In 1988, after a dozen years of refining our initial model for cultivating mythic discovery and transformation, we published the first edition of this book. But as we continued to teach about personal mythology, in ever widening circles, the model continued to evolve. A decade later, after the momentum for further revisions seemed to have abated, we published a second edition. We never thought there would be a third. We believed at the time that in our in-depth work with so many individuals in workshops, classes, and private sessions, we had laid out a systematic set of procedures for helping people discover and transform their underlying guiding myths that was as efficient, effective, and soulful as we were capable of formulating. So much for anticipating new developments in the world around us!

The reason for a third edition of Personal Mythology is that the new field of energy psychology hit us both by surprise. After a combined 70 years of clinical practice, personal development workshops, and teaching on psychological topics, we never expected to see a method that could bring about psychological change as readily and rapidly. The methods have their limitations, make no mistake, but when skillfully combined with the personal mythology model (or virtually any established psychotherapeutic approach), that model or approach becomes markedly more powerful and effective. If you are familiar with energy psychology, you may have a sense of what we are speaking of. If you are not, we invite you take a little detour at this point and read the article and case studies that can be accessed via While that article, in discussing the use of energy psychology with disaster survivors, highlights some of the most difficult, and striking applications of energy psychology, the same methods can be equally as powerful and effective when applied to the more subtle realms of the human psyche. Other free downloads you might want to review from that site include an introduction to the field and an overview of the existing research.

As our approach to personal mythology was increasingly being impacted by the new energy interventions in our counseling, classes, and workshops, the question came to us of whether we needed to revise the book. Obviously, we did. But how? If we tried to teach the reader the methods of energy psychology, the book would become long and unwieldy. The approach we have taken is to add a fourth “Support Guide” to the three found in the previous edition. In the new Support Guide, we speak to readers who have already learned a basic energy psychology protocol, and we teach them how to integrate this with the 5-stage, 12-week program presented in the book. We have not changed the 5-stage model. Its presentation is as it was in the previous edition, and the book can be used without the methods discussed in the new Support Guide. But for those who will apply an energy psychology approach, you will be able to bring about the same changes more rapidly, more harmoniously, with less emotional distress. The power of Energy Psychology for the person in the street (it has additional powers for the clinician) is in its ability to greatly enhance your emotional self-management capacities.

For those who have not yet learned a basic energy psychology protocol (and the fundamentals are being widely taught), the most basic methods are deceptively easy to master. David is one of the authors of a book, The Promise of Energy Psychology, that is an excellent introduction and tutorial. Many other resources can be found by surfing the website listed above.

We have always been humbled by the depth and dimension of mythological work, and we write about it with the full knowledge that it is the reader, not the author, who can make a book like this result in a profound journey. We also gratefully recognize that rather than this being our model, it is a synthesis of others’ work. We draw liberally from the explosion of knowledge and practices that have been forged or rediscovered over the past half century in the areas of psychotherapy, personal growth, and spiritual development. And while perhaps our most important contribution is our insistence that a model for deep psychological and spiritual evolution can be splendidly placed under the canopy of a mythological framework, we are walking a well-established and venerable path, which extends back from long before the Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece and into the twentieth century and beyond, via such brilliant minds as Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade, Jean Houston, Jean Shinoda Bolen, and our late friend, Joseph Campbell. The confluence between personal and societal myths (see is another strength of maintaining a mythological perspective.

Again, you can still go through the program as laid out in the book without introducing an energy psychology component. The program works! And with or without energy interventions, it is still done within a 5-stage, 12-week format. If you elect to integrate the energy work into the model, we suggest you still begin with the truly superb and complementary introductions we were blessed to receive (from June Singer, Ph.D., for the first edition and Jean Houston, Ph.D., for the second edition). Then:Read our original “Invitation” (p. 3) for an overview of and orientation to the program.

Go to the new Support Guide on bringing Energy Psychology into the program.

Proceed through the book as it is written, referring back to the Support Guides as needed.We hope this book will empower you, deepen your appreciation of the remarkable mythic journey that is a life on this planet, and help you find your way to greater peace, satisfaction, and joy. We have been most gratified to hear from so many readers over the years who have found the program to be a force in just those directions.

David Feinsetein
Stanley Krippner
July 2006