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Starship Therapise: Using Therapeutic Fanfiction to Rewrite Your Life

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Harnessing the power of fandom--from Game of Thrones to The Adventures of Zelda--to conquer anxiety, heal from depression, and reclaim balance in mental and emotional health. Modern mythologies are everywhere--from the Avengers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the dragons of Game of Thrones. Where once geek culture was niche and hidden, fandom characters and stories have Harnessing the power of fandom--from Game of Thrones to The Adventures of Zelda--to conquer anxiety, heal from depression, and reclaim balance in mental and emotional health. Modern mythologies are everywhere--from the Avengers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the dragons of Game of Thrones. Where once geek culture was niche and hidden, fandom characters and stories have blasted their way into our cineplexes, bookstores, and streaming systems. They help us make sense of our daily lives--and they can also help us heal. Mental health therapists and Starship Therapise podcast hosts Larisa Garski and Justine Mastin offer a self-help guide to the mental health galaxy for those who have been left out in more traditional therapy spaces: geeks, nerds, gamers, cosplayers, introverts, and all of their friends. Starship Therapise explores the ways in which narratives and play inform the shape of our lives, inviting readers to embrace radical self-care with lessons from Ghost in the Shell, explore anxiety with Miyazaki, and understand narrative therapy with Arya Stark. Spanning fandom from Star Wars to Harry Potter, Zelda to Adventure Time, and everywhere in between, Starship Therapise is an invitation to explore mental health and emotional wellness without conforming to mainstream social constructions. Insights from comics like Uncanny X-Men, Black Magic, Black Panther, and Batman offer avenues to growth and self-discovery alongside explorations of the triumphs and trials heroes, heroines, and beloved characters from Star Wars, Akira, Wuthering Heights, The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter, Steven Universe, and Star Trek. Each chapter closes with a hands-on mindfulness, meditation, or yoga exercise to inspire reflection, growth, and the mind-body-fandom connection.


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Harnessing the power of fandom--from Game of Thrones to The Adventures of Zelda--to conquer anxiety, heal from depression, and reclaim balance in mental and emotional health. Modern mythologies are everywhere--from the Avengers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the dragons of Game of Thrones. Where once geek culture was niche and hidden, fandom characters and stories have Harnessing the power of fandom--from Game of Thrones to The Adventures of Zelda--to conquer anxiety, heal from depression, and reclaim balance in mental and emotional health. Modern mythologies are everywhere--from the Avengers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the dragons of Game of Thrones. Where once geek culture was niche and hidden, fandom characters and stories have blasted their way into our cineplexes, bookstores, and streaming systems. They help us make sense of our daily lives--and they can also help us heal. Mental health therapists and Starship Therapise podcast hosts Larisa Garski and Justine Mastin offer a self-help guide to the mental health galaxy for those who have been left out in more traditional therapy spaces: geeks, nerds, gamers, cosplayers, introverts, and all of their friends. Starship Therapise explores the ways in which narratives and play inform the shape of our lives, inviting readers to embrace radical self-care with lessons from Ghost in the Shell, explore anxiety with Miyazaki, and understand narrative therapy with Arya Stark. Spanning fandom from Star Wars to Harry Potter, Zelda to Adventure Time, and everywhere in between, Starship Therapise is an invitation to explore mental health and emotional wellness without conforming to mainstream social constructions. Insights from comics like Uncanny X-Men, Black Magic, Black Panther, and Batman offer avenues to growth and self-discovery alongside explorations of the triumphs and trials heroes, heroines, and beloved characters from Star Wars, Akira, Wuthering Heights, The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter, Steven Universe, and Star Trek. Each chapter closes with a hands-on mindfulness, meditation, or yoga exercise to inspire reflection, growth, and the mind-body-fandom connection.

41 review for Starship Therapise: Using Therapeutic Fanfiction to Rewrite Your Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bob Lewis

    The idea of "therapeutic fan fiction" is a good one. Beginning with observations from Campbell and Jung that there are deep psychological lessons embedded within the fictional narratives to which we find ourselves attached and extending to research that has shown the act of writing alternative visions of one's life can have profound psychological benefits, it seems to follow naturally that those drawn more to pop culture narratives than to classic literature (on which much of Campbell's and Jung The idea of "therapeutic fan fiction" is a good one. Beginning with observations from Campbell and Jung that there are deep psychological lessons embedded within the fictional narratives to which we find ourselves attached and extending to research that has shown the act of writing alternative visions of one's life can have profound psychological benefits, it seems to follow naturally that those drawn more to pop culture narratives than to classic literature (on which much of Campbell's and Jung's work was based) might benefit from translating their own psychological struggles into psychologically-motivated "fan fiction" of some sort. As such, I was intrigued to read a book that seemed to promise a guide to just that sort of exercise. Unfortunately, the book does not live up to the merit of the ideas at its core. To begin with, contrary to my expectations, this isn't really a guide to writing one's own "therapeutic fan fiction," but rather merely a collection of psychological lessons, spanning a variety of topics, told through comparisons with fictional characters who struggled with similar psychological maladies or traits. Indeed, most of the real "meat" of this book doesn't even have anything to do with fan fiction at all; it's just the authors' psychological interpretations of a variety of fictional characters. Fan fiction does enter into the story primarily through "fan fiction case studies" at the close of each chapter wherein the authors write themselves into (bad) fan fiction of a variety of fictional worlds. In and of itself, that could be useful, and the book is not entirely without merit on those grounds. However, there's simply nothing new here. Everyone who's ever read a book, played a game, or watched a show has compared his or her own psychological struggles to those of the characters. That's WHY we become attached to certain characters in the first place. Yes, the book formalizes the concept a bit (though only a bit) and gives us plenty of examples we might not come up with on our own, but the reader is left with the feeling that he or she hasn't learned anything that isn't better explained in other books (in terms of psychological principles) or that he or she couldn't have come up with independently (in terms of connections to pop culture characters). To the book's credit, it does contain some useful psychological insights that, if by some chance the reader hasn't already read them, might be useful. The odds of discovering anything new are relatively slim, though. Certainly there's nothing here for the psychological professional to add to his or her practice, but even the occasional reader of mass-marketed "self-help" books will find at least the vast majority of the material quite familiar. Worse, sound advice throughout much of the book is also peppered with quite unsound advice. Indeed, the book's entire second chapter is completely wrong. And not just wrong, but catastrophically wrong, and in some cases wrong to the extent that it's my opinion (though my opinion doesn't necessarily align with professional standards in this case) that it should threaten professional licensure, to wit: the book goes as far as to argue that one's weight is not in any way associated with health. This is not an exaggeration. The authors could easily have argued that weight is not determinative of health and I would completely agree. They could have argued that overweight people suffer negative social stigmatization and I wouldn't take issue. No, they instead argued that weight "is not a predictor nor an indicator of a person's physical health," that it "does not tell us anything about our health," and that any argument to the contrary is merely a "social construction." Though this is but one extreme example (which, as I already admitted, does contrast with sound psychological advice elsewhere in the book), it is indicative of the authors' motivations: when their personal politics conflicts with sound science, it is science that must bend to their own political views. Indeed, the book is tainted with political rhetoric (and specifically identity politics) throughout. They take as a "foundational concept" the notion that much of reality consists merely of social constructions. True to an extent, though by no means true to the extent the authors suggest, and unfortunately that view colors the entire text. It is not my view that a psychological practitioner necessarily needs to check his or her political views at the door before writing a book about psychology. It is my view, however, that politics must only enter into the discussion when absolutely relevant to the particular psychological issue at hand. This book, by contrast, is explicitly political and explicitly anti-capitalist (the authors should therefore be thrilled that I received my copy free for the purposes of writing this review and therefore did not contribute to capitalism by giving them any of my money) throughout its entire text. In one section, the authors criticize (whether rightly or wrongly I will leave to the reader's own decision) the commodification of health (and particularly mental health), apparently missing the irony that a book about therapeutic fan fiction IS an example of the commodification of mental health. But the problem is not limited to such specific examples. Hardly a page goes by when the reader isn't reminded of the authors' views about identity politics, such as when they introduce psychological thinkers first as "white dudes" and only secondarily as the pioneers of a particular psychological therapy. Why? In the authors' own words: "because colonialism." Comparable examples taint the entire book, culminating in a penultimate chapter that actually goes as far as to suggest certain types of political activism. Let's put politics aside, though, and talk about the psychology. If one sifts through the never-ending political ramblings, does one find worthwhile psychological insights? Indeed, one does, though the readings of the psychological literature are never much more than superficial. An illustrative example will make the point. In one section, the authors compare Hogwarts Houses (from Harry Potter) to personality types and briefly discuss communication with people who have different communicative preference. They allude to the concept of "love languages," which is quite useful in this discussion, but omit the deep literature on personality psychology. I don't expect a book intended for a general audience to be as detailed as the academic literature, but I certainly would have appreciated at least a bit more allusion to that literature, so the interested reader could follow-up. A possible objection might be that a single book has limited space to discuss such things, but a large number of pages are devoted to Yoga tutorials whose psychological utility is unclear at best. In terms of writing quality and tone, I find myself of mixed minds. I certainly appreciate the friendly and casual tone throughout. The book's voice feels a lot like that of another fan one might encounter at a pop culture convention at some point. However, when applied to matters of serious scientific importance or depth, that tone quickly begins to read as infantilizing and condescending. Footnotes explaining the authors' "headcanons" (opinions about characters contrary to what is written in the source material) consistently distract from matters of considerable psychological complexity. In sum, I think the idea of therapeutic fan fiction might have some merit. The authors, as licensed therapists but not credentialed psychological researchers, have done little to demonstrate this empirically, but my educated opinion is that there is very good reason to think it could be a productive subset of psychotherapy. However, this book is a poor introduction to the idea, and the reader would be better served by just going back the source and reading such thinkers as Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung (or even the narrative therapy work of White and Epston, though these writings are just as contaminated by nonsensical political views as this book is). Note: This is based on an ARC I received free for purposes of review. My opinions remain my own.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brian Therens

    can't say enough wonderful things about this book! Approachable and human. I came for the Zelda chapters, but stayed for the universal themes throughout. Human beings understand ourselves and our world through stories. Reading this book helped affirm that, connecting meaningful moments from fiction with the lived tapestry of life can't say enough wonderful things about this book! Approachable and human. I came for the Zelda chapters, but stayed for the universal themes throughout. Human beings understand ourselves and our world through stories. Reading this book helped affirm that, connecting meaningful moments from fiction with the lived tapestry of life

  3. 4 out of 5

    Avid Reader

    In the Starship Therapise book, authors Garski and Mastin dabble in a never ending exposition of how gaming culture and fanfiction are the new panacea of the psychological and medical cures. Number 1, Garski and Mastin come against over 50 years of clinical work that describes obesity as a disease with mono- and polygenetic causes, amplified by prenatal, nutritional, lifestyle and psychological factors. Body Mass Index as a single tool for evaluating obesity is inappropriate - this is why Body C In the Starship Therapise book, authors Garski and Mastin dabble in a never ending exposition of how gaming culture and fanfiction are the new panacea of the psychological and medical cures. Number 1, Garski and Mastin come against over 50 years of clinical work that describes obesity as a disease with mono- and polygenetic causes, amplified by prenatal, nutritional, lifestyle and psychological factors. Body Mass Index as a single tool for evaluating obesity is inappropriate - this is why Body Composition is a better approach. Assuming that ANY body size is normal and obese people should simply stay obese, and fend their inherent risk factors (including the dreaded Covid-19 infection) by *nutrition mindfulness* and yoga is indeed clinical malpraxis. Tell this lie to a 12 year old boy who is obese and develops type 2 diabetes and parents are seeking help. These politically-correct ideas are dangerous. Number 2, had Garski and Mastin been unbiased, they would have been responsible and mention one clinical trial assessing violent video games and behavior. Multiple clinical trials and metaanalysis studies (Europe, Asia, USA) show that “violent video games increase aggression and aggression-related variables and decrease prosocial outcomes, including gun use behavior in children”. Even Psychology Today website has published articles detailing the results of longitudinal experiments confirming the “risk of desensitization while playing violent video games”. Word of the wise to Garski and Mastin, cherry-picking science is not the practice of mental health professionals but of charlatans treating people like sheep. Number 3, the problem with the epigenetics of trauma in utero is that it automatically assumes that there is no possibility of healing - no reversal. It rests in the absolutism of the “inborn” or “congenital” patterns of behavior to justify victimhood mentality, entitlement, antisocial personality and unwillingness to heal because “I was born traumatized”. If this is the case, why has the medical field devoted decades of research on inborn errors of metabolism and congenital malformation? The “woke” concept of generational trauma is a mental constraint to personal growth, emotional healing and maturity. It uses the incorrect absolutism of “White Mental Frame vs. the Black Mental Frame” to promote hate, discord, social resentment, shame and victimization dialogue among the people. *Verbalize to Normalize* is simply a way to victimize oneself and be stuck in trauma. There are counterfeits to emotional healing; make no mistake, THIS is one of them. Number 4, applying fanfiction therapy to Fantasy Prone Personalities is as unsafe as it sounds. Subjects prone to fantasy are less likely to be able to differentiate between the fantasy and reality and are at high risk of presenting cluster A personality disorders, dissociative personality disorder and other signs of maladjustment. Imagine telling a patient that with the *Westworld Construct* they can question their own reality and they should engage in Real Person Fiction. Evidently, Garski and Mastin use this “fanfiction” therapy for all their patients - one recipe for everyone. I wonder if this is an example of socialized medicine where “all lives matter” therefore we treat them all the same? That is the definition of insanity, BTW. Number 5, the cherry on top is that depression cannot be cured, just kept in the “Upside Down”. There is a real price to pay for keeping something as debilitating as depression “under wraps”, rather than actually working with your patient to find stability, permanence in treatment, healing and fulfillment. Prayer has been used in multiple randomized clinical trials, showing that private prayer is “associated with a significant benefit for depression, optimism, coping, and other mental health conditions such as anxiety.” So instead of using repression techniques to treat depression, wouldn't it be better to use true compassion, emotional healing and a true ancillary method like prayer to help the patient? Overall, this book is deceiving, dangerous, and offers a vague proposal for therapy based on lies. Fanfiction to “rewrite your life” is a lie, because fanfiction is indeed a made-up story. A lie.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    I really enjoyed this book - both as a good read, and as a thought provoking and inspiring source for personal growth, by looking at my life in a more forgiving and fruitful way. Just a great clever concept, really well executed in fresh and insightful ways.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    As a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and a self-proclaimed queer geek with mental health struggles of my own, I give this book my whole-hearted recommendation. We as humans are wired for story; it's how we connect with ourselves, with each other, and with the world. And yet, for decades - if not centuries - stories have been derided as kid stuff, shunted to the side as we grew up, and play was derided as useless drivel. Yet, we know - as therapists, as helpers, as a people who can now see As a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and a self-proclaimed queer geek with mental health struggles of my own, I give this book my whole-hearted recommendation. We as humans are wired for story; it's how we connect with ourselves, with each other, and with the world. And yet, for decades - if not centuries - stories have been derided as kid stuff, shunted to the side as we grew up, and play was derided as useless drivel. Yet, we know - as therapists, as helpers, as a people who can now see how stories are neurobiologically part of us - that we need stories. And this book is the perfect marriage of fandom (stories) and therapeutic ideas, packaged in the intersectional and difficult world we're living in. While many therapists would shy away from the political, Mastin and Garski, both LMFTs, walk straight into it. We live in a political world, where race and gender and global pandemics and climate change ABSOLUTELY affect our mental health, and the health of our society. To disconnect that reality from the therapy space - both in self-help and in actual therapeutic offices - is disingenuous and harmful. This book gives you the tools you need to harness your own inner Luke Skywalker or Picard (or Thor or Black Panther or Hermione, or Frodo, or Link, or any number of other fandom favorites) to tackle life's challenges, from being in relationship (and setting boundaries) to trauma (and posttraumatic growth) to anxiety and depression to grief and loss and so much more. This is done with humor and in small sections, making it digestible and relatable. Each chapter breaks down big concepts and teaches useful tools, and includes a fanfiction of a therapy session to further illustrate those concepts. What's more, the authors invite you to practice those skills in every chapter - with discussion questions, questions throughout the chapters they encourage you to reflect on, and a yoga or mindfulness/meditation exercise (which, with the purchase of the book, you can access videos of the exercises in addition to the lovely illustrations within the book). These exercises are fresh and fun, new takes on age-old practices, skillfully melding stories that resonate with us to the tools we've known for centuries. This book is an amazing new look on narrative therapeutic practices, among others, and how to rewrite your life using your favorite characters as guides and inspirations. It encourages you to reconnect with play and creativity in whatever way makes sense for you. It is balanced with serious content and humor, and it doesn't shy away from hard conversations about the world we've inherited and what we can do about it. I already know I'll be using many of these tools in my practice as a mental health professional, and that I'll be encouraging this book to many people, and using the tools myself. Some of these meditations have already worked their way into weekly practices for me and I think they'll be relatable to any lover of stories who picks up this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hew La France

    Quite the frustrating read. A nice idea, one I can personally vouch for having worked out my own problems through my own work of fictions. However, the authors decide to get VERY political. Why? That is not needed. Come now.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Renee DeMoranville

    This was a very interesting book and concept. I have to be honest I liked some of it and others parts I didn’t. But this is going to be your preference. In some parts I feel the authors were trying to hard to fit all their points into the different fandoms. Still a good read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amy N.

    Got about halfway through. It's not bad, but it was more therapy and less fanfiction, and less fanfiction specifically and more fandom activities in general. Some might find it useful, but it wasn't what I was looking for. Got about halfway through. It's not bad, but it was more therapy and less fanfiction, and less fanfiction specifically and more fandom activities in general. Some might find it useful, but it wasn't what I was looking for.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Interesting and wonderful artwork. This was a Goodreads giveaway winner.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ani

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Benesh

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bevin

  13. 5 out of 5

    Angie Johnson

  14. 4 out of 5

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  15. 4 out of 5

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  16. 5 out of 5

    emmy

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tracie

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Adams

  20. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bettye Short

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tess Marie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kye Cantey

  26. 4 out of 5

    Steff

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ahmed

  28. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Gerhart

  29. 4 out of 5

    V Dixon

  30. 4 out of 5

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  31. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

  32. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  33. 4 out of 5

    Bailey S.

  34. 5 out of 5

    Fleet Sparrow

  35. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  36. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

  37. 5 out of 5

    Rod Cressey

  38. 4 out of 5

    Liz Miller

  39. 4 out of 5

    Edward

  40. 4 out of 5

    Jen Schlott

  41. 4 out of 5

    Kara Sjoblom-Bay

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