Introducing Narrative Psychology: Self, Trauma, and the Construction of Meaning

By Michele L. Crossley | Go to book overview

SECTION III
Contemporary applications

Preface

By the time you have reached this point in the book, you should have just completed a narrative psychological analysis of your own autobiography. Over the course of the next two chapters, we will be looking at further application of the narrative psychological method. In particular, we will focus on two of the main types of materials to which a narrative psychological style of analysis is most applicable. These include texts such as published autobiographies, biographies and diaries, and life-history-type interviews. More specifically, Chapter 6 shows how a narrative psychological approach can be used to analyse published autobiographical accounts such as those written by 'survivors' of childhood sexual abuse. Chapter 7 then goes on to show how the same approach can be used with interview material, in this case from interviews conducted with HIV-positive individuals.


A note on trauma narratives

Chapter 6 draws on previous research I have conducted in relation to autobiographical accounts of childhood sexual abuse written by female 'survivors' (see Davies 1995a). This research took place in the context of a rapidly proliferating collection of personal accounts of incestuous abuse and the need for testimony in relation to traumatic events more generally. Indeed, some authors such as Frank (1995: 71) have argued that this need to 'find one's own voice' is not just limited to traumatizing experiences, but that it is a feature characteristic of postmodern contemporary culture in which subordinated peoples (such as women, the working class, ethnic minorities, disabled people) have been 'written on from the outside' and have therefore 'lost their voices'. Hence, 'speaking in a voice recognisable as one's own becomes increasingly difficult', 'speech proliferates in search of that voice' and 'self stories proliferate' (Frank 1995: 71; see also Priest 1996).

One of the predominant themes in the literature of various kinds of trauma is the 'urge to bear witness', of the need for 'survivors' to testify to

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Introducing Narrative Psychology: Self, Trauma, and the Construction of Meaning
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Preface vi
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Explanatory Note on 'Further Reading' viii
  • Section I - Theories and Methods 1
  • 1: Theories of Self and Identity 3
  • 2: Discursive Methods and the Study of Self 24
  • 3: Narrative 45
  • Section II - Applying Methods 65
  • 4: Doing a Narrative Analysis 67
  • 5: Analysis and Writing Up the Project 87
  • Section III - Contemporary Applications 109
  • 6: Surviving Childhood Sexual Abuse 113
  • 7: Terminal Illness 135
  • 8: Contemporary Ways of Making Meaning 159
  • Concluding Synopsis 179
  • Bibliography 181
  • Index 193
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