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

By Michele L. Crossley | Go to book overview

Concluding synopsis

In Introducing Narrative Psychology, I have attempted to provide a broad flavour of the kinds of theoretical, methodological and practical issues narrative psychology is concerned with. In the early chapters of the book we saw how narrative psychology conceptualizes the distinctively human order of meaning as one intrinsically involved with language, temporality, other people and morality. We saw how images of self are connected to particular cultural contexts such as the contemporary 'inward' Western self and the moral implications of such conceptualizations. Such issues and questions have been followed through over the course of this book both with application to our own autobiographical narratives and also in relation to casestudies of various traumatizing events such as childhood sexual abuse and the study of illness narratives.

It is through such applications that we also come to realize the importance of theoretical debates first encountered in Chapter 2. There, we argued that a narrative psychological approach attempts to retain a sense of the culturally discursive structuring of experience while trying not to lose sight of the very personal nature of that experience. Analysis of our own autobiographies and trauma narratives illustrated why the process of deconstruction is so important. We need to understand how dominant cultural narratives are inscribed in experiential accounts, invisibly working to produce certain versions and visions of reality which subdue others and frequently serve to perpetuate existing social relations of power. But we have also found that this is not necessarily a 'bad' thing. On a personal level, the appropriation of such dominant cultural narratives may constitute the best way in which we can adjust to the social world and live a fulfilling and meaningful life. The important point here is that our process of deconstructing cultural narratives should leave us in a position where we can empathically appreciate the role those narratives play in making sense of our own lives and the lives of others, building up a sense of meaning, identity and morality. Our analysis of traumatizing events, which involve the breakdown of temporal coherence and narrative structure, have alerted us to just how central such processes are to our lives.

We have also come to realize that there are no easy answers to what

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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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