Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Memoirs, narratives, and change

I like memoirs, though I read them relatively infrequently.* William Zinsser has a recent post, “The Right to Write,” defending memoir writing for everyone. In it, he notes the benefits of writing to others and, importantly, to ourselves: “Writing is also a potent search mechanism, often as helpful as psychoanalysis and a lot cheaper.”

Coincidentally, when I read his piece I had just come across this post about narrative therapy. I have to say that, though it could have its dangers, there’s something very appealing to me about writing and creating our narratives as individual therapy and in creating social change. I see from my quick HYDRA search that Greta Christina touched on the importance of narratives a while back, with someone referring to narrative therapy in the comments. It appears from my limited investigation that the term “narrative therapy” is associated with a particular set of people and school of thought, whose specific techniques and claims I don’t know enough about to defend or criticize, so I should probably refer to “narrative psychology” or “narrative medicine.” But the general notion is intriguing, and it’s no surprise that it seems to resonate with – and perhaps prove most useful to - writers and those interested in history, democratic practice, and social change.

* The only two that come to mind from recent years are this

and this

Next on my list,

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