Contemporary ways of making meaning
In this book so far we have looked at how different contemporary narratives or stories have been used to make sense of personal and traumatizing experiences. We have suggested, sometimes more explicitly than others, that certain stones are more 'adequate' or plausible than others. For example, in Chapter 6, through our analysis of Fraser's autobiographical account of the childhood sexual abuse she suffered, we were concerned to highlight the limitations and inadequacy of the 'therapeutic' narrative which is becoming increasingly popular in contemporary culture. As we also saw in Chapter 7, this 'therapeutic' narrative is also used by some HIV-positive individuals (in the form of the 'conversion/growth' narrative) to help them come to terms with their trauma.
To recap, in Chapter 6 we argued that the 'healing' or 'therapeutic' narrative is all about achieving integration, adaptation, peace and closure. In order to accomplish this, Fraser builds up an image of her father as a victim himself, an unfortunate recipient, just like she was, of a family history constituting a 'tragedy in progress'. By conceiving of her father in this way, Fraser is able to understand, forgive and love and thus move on the 'healing process'. In doing so, she is able to appreciate the full 'mystery' of the world and all the wonders it has to offer. Although this message of 'personal redemption' may be seen as advantageous from the point of view of the individual, however, we argued that the effect of this kind of narrative is to reduce incest from a 'crime' to a 'disease' — a psychological illness involving the entire family. In this way, the therapeutic narrative operates to depoliticize the crime of incest