Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Paul Browde


I am Paul Browde. I am a psychiatrist, performer and couples coach. While at medical school I found that - while I loved being a doctor - I was also interested in listening to people's stories, and chose to work with patients nobody else wanted, namely those who were dying. When I was 24 years old, my life took a very unpredicted turn: I myself was given a life-threatening diagnosis. I was told that I would likely live for only two more years. This news propelled me to make the unusual choice of going to drama school in London. If I was to die, there was no time to waste and I had to pursue my passion. After drama school, and trying the difficult path of working as an actor, I returned to medicine and did a four-year residency in psychiatry in New York. I had a hunger for learning and did additional training in hypnosis, family systems and narrative therapy. It was narrative therapy that informed my practice as a psychiatrist, as I came to understand the mechanisms of power, and the way the stories we tell not only describe our lives but shape them. I eventually told my story publicly, and then, in collaboration with Murray Nossel whom I’d known from school in South Africa, created a storytelling performance called “Two Men Talking”, which we took around the world, from South Africa to England, Australia and across the USA. We also started a company Narativ Inc., which aims at transforming individuals, teams, and organizations through the simple, timeless, and universal art of storytelling. Narativ consults to nonprofit organizations around the world that use personal storytelling as a medium for education, including the Memory Box Project in South Africa and Open Society Institute grantees. Murray and I have taught a course called Co-Constructing Narratives in the Master's Program since its inception. We are excited about having found a way of teaching what we do in Two Men Talking and have plans to write a book teaching the method as a narrative medicine tool.