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The Unhealthy Underside of Narratives

Craib, Ian (2003) The Unhealthy Underside of Narratives. In: Narrative, Memory and Health. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 1-11.

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      Elsewhere (Craib, 2000) I have talked about narratives as a form of bad faith,
      and I want to extend that analysis here in a more concrete way and suggest that
      far from narrative and life being that same ‘thing’ (a la Bruner) they are very
      different ‘things’ and, further, that the relationship between narrative, life and
      health is not the one we might expect. We might expect that narratives are
      good for us, that they help us get our lives together, make sense of where we
      are and enable us to go forward. Indeed this is so obvious that - as we see from
      a paper delivered at this conference - when people receive bad news, a
      diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, helpers set out to provide them with a narrative
      that will enable them to be strong and look hopefully at the future.
      In this paper I want to argue against such a position; it is my contention
      that some narratives can help people in certain situations but more important,
      narratives, and perhaps especially the best intentioned of accounts that are
      offered by people in the caring professions, can function to keep people in
      passive positions, inhibit possible change and separate people from the
      authenticity of their lives. I am sympathetic to Martin Amis’s suggestion, that
      if there is such a thing as a shared feature of authentic narratives, it lies, at least
      in the modern Western world, in our common experience of tragedy. I will use
      some examples from my own practice as a psychotherapist to illustrate the
      counter productive nature of some narratives.

      Item Type: Book Chapter
      Additional Information: Copyright for chapters remain with individual authors at all times and permission should be sought from the author for any reproduction other than for personal use.
      Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
      B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
      Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences > Narrative and Memory Research Group > Narrative and Memory Research Group Annual Conference
      School of Human and Health Sciences
      Related URLs:
      Depositing User: Cherry Edmunds
      Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2009 16:07
      Last Modified: 30 Jul 2010 14:17


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