Narrative Psychology: The Storied Nature of Human Conduct

By Theodore R. Sarbin | Go to book overview

Preface

The epistemological crisis in social psychology has created a readiness to set aside positivist assumptions and to replace them with other ways of conceptualizing the human condition. The essays collected in this book exemplify the use of the narrative as a root metaphor. Long before there was a science of psychology, men and women created and told stories about the efforts of human beings to make sense of their problematic worlds. Novelists, dramatists, poets, essayists, and film makers - storytellers all - have continued to provide insights about human motives and actions, even during the hundred years that human conduct has been examined by scientific psychology.

The essays make clear that story making, storytelling and story comprehension are fundamental conceptions for a revived psychology. Each makes a case for the storied nature of human action. When taken together, the essays support my claim that narrative psychology is a viable alternative to the positivist paradigm.

Each of the essayists is an established contributor to the corpus of knowledge for which I use the shorthand term "narrative psychology." To each, I convey my heartfelt gratitude for participating in this adventure.

Many colleagues, students, and friends encouraged me in this enterprise and I am grateful for their support and advice. I single out for special thanks Ralph M. Carney, James B. Hall, John I. Kitsuse, James C. Mancuso, and Karl E. Scheibe. I am grateful also to Lorelei Cotovsky for bibliographical assistance and for preparing the index.

No brief acknowledgement can adequately tell a story the central theme of which is my gratitude for the warm encouragement, interest, and understanding of my wife, Genevieve. Her companionship provided the background for what otherwise would have been a lonely occupation - the authorial and editorial work required to bring this project to completion.

Theodore R. Sarbin

-vii-

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