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The Integration of Narrative Identity in Self-Inflicted Socially Regressive Experience

By Minna-Leena Pulkkinen

Abstract

Research on narrative identity has mainly focused on progressive adaptation\ud and survival narratives of life-change in cases in which the change in the\ud individual’s situation has been brought about by factors outside his/her control.\ud The present study, however, is concerned to examine the way in which a selfinflicted\ud socially regressive experience is integrated into an identity narrative.\ud The study was carried out in the Department of Psychology, University of\ud Jyväskylä, Finland. The material was collected from voluntary five-hour\ud counseling sessions included as a part of the community service required of\ud convicted drunk-drivers. The theoretical starting-point is the theory of narrative\ud flow, which is based on the idea that the foundation of identity is an inner\ud narrative, a process through which experiences are interpreted. The inner\ud narrative constructs and manifests itself both in action and in the stories told\ud about acted-out life. From the perspective of this dynamic, a person driving\ud under the influence of alcohol can be seen as indicating a conflict between an\ud inner narrative and a socially legitimate story. Regardless of offender’s own\ud attitudes towards the offence, (s)he is confronted with personal choice and\ud responsibility when (s)he faces social reality (legal and social sanctions). In\ud order to understand self-inflicted, socially regressive experiences the approach\ud used has to be sensitive to both social reality and personal choices. Here the\ud integration of an experience is studied from the viewpoint of sense of agency,\ud ie. a person’s ability to understand his/her responsibility as an agent in relation\ud to his/her motives, impulses, and social reality. As the integration of experience\ud is considered within the framework of the theory of narrative flow, the sense of\ud agency is examined in stories of acted out life, in the social stock of stories and\ud in ways of interpreting circumstantial conditions. In this presentation, the\ud integration of experience is examined through agency only by concentrating on\ud talk about narrator’s own drunken driving. The following questions are asked:\ud 1) how does the narrator understand his/her drunken driving and what meaning\ud does s(he) give to it, and 2) how does the narrator convey his/her responsibility\ud in relation to his/her motives and impulses for driving under the influence of\ud alcohol

Topics: H1, BF
Publisher: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:5132

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Citations

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