A decade or so ago I wrote a fantasy story set in a society that had a class or caste or guild of storytellers whose job was to tell stories not to entertain or to instruct, but specifically to cure people of grief or madness. In this society, if you felt yourself cracking up, or just couldn’t stand the awfulness of it all, you’d go to the storyteller (or your concerned relatives would call him/her in), as straightforwardly as you’d consult a doctor or a midwife. S/he would take a look at you and tell a story, which might take anything between 10 minutes and several days to tell, and which might not necessarily have any detectable bearing on whatever was wrong with you. After which - not necessarily straight away but within a week or so – you would feel better and more able to deal with your life.
What’s bugging me is that I now simply can’t remember if I dreamed up this idea myself, or if I got it from reading about a culture that does or did this in real life. (Of course, it’s perfectly possible that I dreamed up the idea, but that unbeknownst to me such a culture really exists). So, does anybody know such a culture?
And I suppose a third possibility is that I was unconsciously plagiarising some other writer’s idea - so if anybody remembers this theme being used in literature anywhere, please post!
(Edited 1 Jan to say: sorry about the tags, everyone - I wrote the text in Word and pasted it in; I had no idea that would bring a load of invisible junk formatting with it - I'm not very experienced with LJ - and on my screen it looked perfectly normal. I hope that's better now?)