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

Pulkkinen, Minna-Leena (2002) The Integration of Narrative Identity in Self-Inflicted Socially Regressive Experience. In: Narrative, Memory and Life Transitions. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 65-73.

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

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
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Depositing User: Cherry Edmunds
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2009 08:42
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2015 23:16


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