Narrative Psychology: The Storied Nature of Human Conduct

By Theodore R. Sarbin | Go to book overview

conceptualizes the mind as an active processor of input and as a manipulator of the story that can be retrieved to process self-related input ( Selman, 1980). Following Selman's view one could imagine a young adolescent saying, "I (my storyteller self) could fool myself (my actor self) into not wanting a computer. I could say over and over, 'Computers are dumb. Computers are dumb.' That way, I wouldn't care if other kids have computers and I don't."

Finally, in late adolescence people locate an ancillary storyteller self: the unconscious self. When encountering an invalidation created by trying to conceptualize the I as a storyteller who follows acceptable narrative grammar rules, the adolescent in our culture adopts the view that the storyteller I functions in parallel with an "unconscious" storyteller.

"In adolescence, then, the emphasis on self-understanding shifts away from the constituents of the 'Me' and toward the aspects of the 'I'" ( Damon & Hart, 1982, p. 857). The adolescent moves toward establishing a conceptualization of a coherent system for creating one's self stories. By adopting the concept of unconscious functioning the adolescent can believe that contradictions in self story writing can be understood by considering the antics of a secondary author of self stories. By adopting the concept of the unconscious he or she can believe that the authoring of apparently contradictory self stories can be attributed to the functioning of a lawfully ordered, but perhaps "unconscious," aspect of self.


CONCLUSION

The foregoing overview has been presented to validate the proposition that the typical person who has passed through late childhood imposes story structure on all varieties of input. Current thought can be assembled to create a good story about the motivation of the human psychological system as it undergoes the epigenetic acquisition of a complex narrative grammar. Though the "goodness" of the narrative grammar story has been questioned ( Black & Wilensky, 1979), other scholars (see van Dijk & Kintsch, 1983) have gone on to refine and to elaborate the descriptions of the processes involved in this complex psychological functioning. Clearly, with the accumulated evidence one would be hard pressed to contradict the proposition that personal narrative grammar structures are involved in the development and use of reading skills. Additionally, the foregoing analysis of the commonly held concept of the

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