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Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives in Autobiographical Storytelling



Emotions have a life beyond the immediate eliciting situation, as they tend to be shared with others by putting the experience in narrative form. Narrating emotions helps us to express, understand, and share them: the way we tell stories influences how others react to our emotions, and impacts how we cope with emotions ourselves. In Emotion and Narrative, Habermas introduces the forms of oral narratives of personal experiences, and highlights a narrative's capacity to integrate various personal and temporal perspectives. Via theoretical proposals richly illustrated with oral narratives from clinical and non-clinical samples, he demonstrates how the form and variety of perspectives represented in stories strongly, yet unnoticeably, influence the emotional reactions of listeners. For instance, narrators defend themselves against negativity and undesired views of themselves by excluding perspectives from narratives. Habermas shows how parents can help children, and psychotherapists can assist patients, to enrich their narratives with additional perspectives. Table of contents:
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Tilmann Habermas
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Emotion and Narrative
Perspectives in Autobiographical Storytelling
Tilmann Habermas
Goethe University Frankfurt
Cambridge University Press
978-1-107-03213-2 — Emotion and Narrative
Tilmann Habermas
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© in this web service Cambridge University Press
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List of figures and tables page vii
Preface ix
Acknowledgments xi
List of narratives xiii
1 Emotions 1
PART I Emotions in oral autobiographical narratives 17
2 Narrative structure 19
3 Narrative evaluations 48
4 Narrative perspectives 70
PART II How narratives evoke emotions 93
5 Kinds of emotional effects of narratives 97
6 Narrative perspectives guide recipient emotions 122
7 Context and incongruencies also affect emotional
response 146
PART III Narratives reflect defense against emotions, and
narrating helps cope with them 177
8 Narratives reflect narrators’ ability to bear emotions 179
9 The healing power of narrating 203
10 Working through by narrating experiences repeatedly 225
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Tilmann Habermas
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PART IV Transformative co-narratives by parents and therapists 257
11 Co-narrating emotional events 259
12 Co-narrating in psychotherapy 276
13 Narrative perspectives in emotions 304
References 315
Index 345
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
“Tell me about it” – the background to this book is an interest in how sharing emotional
experiences with others helps dealing with them, emotionally, intellectually, and practically.
Emotions provide a fine system of signals to oneself. They call for turning our attention to
something that we need to deal with. Often it is not quite clear why a situation makes us feel
uneasy or arouses a specific emotion. Often we only notice them only later on and wonder
what they are about. Strong emotional experiences as well as unclear emotional experiences
motivate us to share them with others. To share experiences we use the text format narrative.
Sharing experiences is a frequent everyday activity. A specialized professional context has
emerged at the end of the 19
century which has specialized in this activity, psychotherapy,
and especially the talking cures that focus on understanding experiences. My clinical
background is psychoanalysis, and although this book does not focus on psychopathology or
clinical processes, writing the book is motivated by the wish to understand some of the
mechanisms by which psychoanalytic and similar insight-oriented psychotherapies work.
Psychoanalysis has little research to offer that actually studies the moment-to-moment
mechanisms of change. Studying the uses of narratives is one possible access to therapeutic
In psychology, the sharing of emotions is often considered as mere remembering or sharing,
but not as a linguistic communication with others in time. Emotions are often conceptualized
predominantly from evolutionary, biological, and cognitive perspectives. However, I argue in
this book, emotions are communications, to others and to ourselves. Because emotions react to
and evaluate events, to understand them we need to understand the sequence of events and
their implications. I argue that this requires a narrative format. It allows making sense of
emotions and communicating them. The narrative format requires spelling out the relevant
background which is necessary to understand the meaning of events for a given individual, it
relates the events, and it allows to transport, to interpret and to evaluate anew the events.
Therefore the emotion process has a narrative quality. And narrating the emotional experiences
has the power to transform them and the emotions they engender.
Emotion shares with narrative the basic temporal structure. In addition, emotion and
narrative are structured by social perspectives. For narrative this has long been recognized, but
not so for emotions. In this book I spell out which are the emotional consequences and the
antecedents of different perspectival architectures of narratives. It remains an open task to
detail the perspectival nature of not-yet-narrativized emotions.
Because narrative is a complex linguistic product and communication and is not easily
quantified, psychology has been slow in understanding its integrative potential. Besides offering
a model for a different, namely hermeneutic and ideographic psychology (termed Narrative
Psychology), narrative has become the object also of mainstream psychology in the fields of
cognitive, memory, developmental, personality and clinical psychology. In this book I argue that
also emotion psychology could greatly profit from acknowledging and studying the narrative
form and function of emotion and of the process of coping with emotions.
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
Chapter 1
Emotions have long been neglected by psychology, at the times of behaviorism and also after
the cognitive turn. Emotions were and still are a central concern of psychoanalysis. This began
with the early cathartic method of re-experiencing traumatic events and thereby releasing
pent-up emotions. It continued with Freud’s basic assumption that although emotions appear
to be unmotivated in the neuroses, “the emotional state as such is always justified” (Freud,
1896, p. 346). Freud was saying that emotions can appear outside the context in which they
made sense. He did, however, never develop a specific theory of emotions. More recent
developments in psychoanalytic emotion theory do make use of psychological emotion theories
(e.g., Benecke & Damann, 2003; Benecke, Peham & Bänninger-Huber, 2005; Döll-Hentschker,
On the shoulders of important forerunners from the 1960s such as Silvan Tomkins and
Richard Lazarus, emotion psychology began to emerge as a vibrant field in the 1970s with Paul
Ekman and Carroll Izard. It evolved into a broad and established field in the 1980s. The
important contributors include Klaus Scherer (1983), who developed a taxonomy of situation
features which are used in appraising situations. This appraisal determines the quality of an
ensuing emotion. Andrew Ortony, Gerald Clore, and Allan Collins (1988) proposed a more
theory-driven systematization of appraisal features. Nico Frijda (1986) reviewed the entire field
to propose a model of emotion process. Keith Oatley and Philip Johnson-Laird (1987) proposed
a model of emotions as signalling the progress of goal-directed action sequences at certain plan
junctures, negative emotions signalling specific plan failure, positive emotions success. Emotion
psychology continues to be one of the fields of psychology that values theory most. Therefore,
emotion psychology can easily communicate across otherwise seemingly unsurmountable
disciplinary boundaries. Its reach extends to the humanities such as philosophy, sociology, and
literary studies, and also to the sciences such as physiology and neurology.
This book is about the central roles of narrative and emotions for each other. This first
chapter provides a basic conception of emotions. It contextualizes the topic and thesis of this
book in emotion psychology. I will argue in this chapter for an understanding of emotion as a
communicative phenomenon, which places narrative in a central position in the emotion
process compared to individualistic conceptions of emotion. This idea goes back to the pre-
history of modern emotion psychology, to Charles Darwin’s (1872) book on the expression of
emotions and its elaborations by Wilhelm Wundt and George Herbert Mead. From there I will
use Richard Lazarus’ theory to embed emotions in social relationships. Finally, writings by Keith
Oatley (and later on Peter Goldie) will serve to introduce narrative as the ideal format for
understanding emotions. The basic thesis of this book is that human emotions are intricately
structured by social perspectives, which in turn, I will argue in this chapter, follows from the
communicative nature of emotions. I will unfold the details of this argument throughout the
main body of the book.
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
Emotion as pre-reflective communication: Darwin, Wundt, Mead
Charles Darwin (1872) framed emotions from an evolutionary perspective, constructing
parallels between human facial and gestural emotional expressions and behaviors of animals in
specific situations. He argued that human expressions of emotions were inherited remnants of
the initial phases of actions that once served to prepare the ensuing actions. The snarling of
dogs and baring of their teeth serves to prepare an attack by biting the other. Similarly, humans
bare their teeth when they get angry, although they only bite metaphorically by using language.
Darwin argued that these habitual preparatory, truncated actions expressed the underlying
emotion that motivated the action. The forms of emotion expression were passed on to the
next generation, which is actually a rather Lamarckian argument. Due to their inherited basis
these forms are universal.
Contrasting the still popular assumption that emotions are irrational und dysfunctional,
Darwin closely linked them to our inherited outfit that, at least, originally had been functional,
and is still mostly functional. The evolutionary and situational usefulness of emotions as
preparation for action is the cornerstone of functional theories of emotion (e.g., Izard, 1991).
Secondly, linking emotions to inherited bodily movements stresses the involuntary and bodily
aspects of emotions. Thirdly, relating specific facial expressions to specific emotions implies
that emotions differ qualitatively, and not only quantitatively from each other, which is a
position held today by various theories of basic emotions. Darwin laid the basis, but stopped
short of developing a communicative theory of emotions himself (Ekman, 1998).
In contrast to Darwin’s view of emotions as qualitatively distinct, Wilhelm Wundt (1887)
defined emotions in his early, physiologically oriented phase as differing quantitatively from
each other on the three subjectively perceived dimensions of valence, arousal-inhibition, and
tension-relaxation. Turning towards a psychology of culture and society, Wundt later
postulated language to be a necessary element of emotion. To phylogenetically reconstruct the
transition from instinctually regulated animal interaction and intentional human
communication, Wundt (1900) linked instinctually guided actions to an accompanying emotion.
Following Darwin, he suggested that emotions, or what he termed affect, is expressed through
physiological innervation and expressive movements of the early phases of these instinctually
guided actions. Wundt suggested that the expressive innervations and movements that most
form the basis of language are facial and gestural affective expressions of emotions, because
they not only express the intensity of emotions, but also qualities. Subsequently, these
movements may also express ideas that accompany emotions (Wundt, 1900, p. 238ff.).
According to Wundt, the qualitative transformation of a merely expressive movement into a
sign that means something to an other is made through the imitation of the expressive
movement by that other, which evokes the same emotion and idea in that other. To this the
other may associate related ideas. When these are expressed, they no longer solely constitute
an imitation, but an answer. The initially individual affect is transformed into a shared affect
through the ensuing back and forth of expressive facial and gestural movements, which keeps
changing as the dialogue of gestures continues. Because ideas begin to prevail affects, this
affective sharing turns into shared thinking, or a dialogue of ideas (Wundt, 1900, p. 240).
Consequently, Wundt identified interjections, vocatives, and imperatives as the first vocal
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
expressions carrying meaning, followed by imitative sounds, onomatopoetic words, and vocal
Thus, Wundt followed Darwin in conceiving facial movements and gestures as expressions
of emotions. Similar to Darwin, he considered them to be derived from the initial phases of
truncated actions. Wundt used this conception to construct a theory of the origins of language
as the basis for culture. He shared Darwin’s idea that facial and gestural emotional movements
primarily served to express emotions and had originally been the initial part of an action. Going
beyond Darwin, Wundt suggested that in a second phylogenetic step emotional expressive
movements, especially vocal gestures, signalled an emotion and the corresponding ideas to
another organism who would then respond. Emotional expressions thus secondarily turned into
signs used for communication.
George Herbert Mead (1904) revised Wundt’s phylogenetic reconstruction of how the
expression of emotions turned into communication and then into verbal communication by
reversing their order. Mead (1910) argued that the transition of gestures from mere expression
of the physiological arousal to becoming signs carrying meaning, presupposed that they had
evolved in a preceding social interaction with others. To liberate interaction from being guided
by instinct-guided stimulus-response sequences, the other had to understand the beginning of
an action as signalling an action readiness and the complete action to come. Even animals react
to each others’ action tendencies and change the course of their own actions in response, such
as when fighting or courting.
Mead (1912) proposed that vocal gestures were ideal for rendering the meaning of one’s
own gestures accessible to oneself, because only they could be perceived by the self as easily as
by an other. Adopting another’s reaction to one’s own gesture would enable the individual to
gain consciousness of the meaning of a gesture and turn it into a (verbal) symbol that could be
used with conscious intentions to communicate (Mead, 1925).
Three aspects of this reconstruction are important for understanding emotions. Firstly,
emotions can only arise once social interaction is no longer dictated by stimulus-response
sequences, but becomes open to a negotiation of gestures, in which beginning actions are
accompanied by sensations at the fringes of the field of consciousness (James, 1890). Neither
these pre-reflective feelings nor their facial and gestural expressions are self-conscious in the
sense that they could be perceived by oneself as by an other. Therefore, they cannot easily be
expressed linguistically by naming them. Rather, as in social interaction of mammals, human
emotions usually evoke pre-reflective reactions from others in a communication of non-verbal
emotional expressions (Mead, 1934, p. 147ff.). This communication is based on the objective,
that is, pragmatic meaning of initial phases of acts. Thus, emotions are basically a
communicative phenomenon that serves to coordinate members of the same species. This
model implies that actions need to remain incomplete so that there is room for emotions in the
wake of actions. Mead (1910) attributed the incompleteness of actions to conflicts arising
within the course of action. He argued that conflicts would most likely arise when interacting
with other organisms, but not when interacting with the natural environment. In social
interactions, the other’s reaction to the individual’s beginning action motivates a change in the
course of action.
Secondly, consciously taking the perspective of an other requires inhibiting action, which
allows looking back onto one’s action tendencies and reacting to them as an other would. Only
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
this enables individuals to identify a vague feeling as a specific emotion. This self-consciousness
may accompany acting, but can also disappear when the individual is fully immersed in an
activity (Mead, 1912). Thus, for emotions to be reflected-upon and become conscious, they
require not only the inhibiting or truncating of a full act, but also the taking of the perspective
of a specific or a generalized other.
Third, Mead identified the taking of the perspective of an other onto one’s own action
tendencies as constituting the perspective from which James’ Me is constituted, the reflectively
conceived and judged own person. In contrast, the I represents the spontaneous action
tendencies. Insofar as spontaneous action tendencies have an evaluative component towards
the situation and its objects, so do the perspectives taken onto one’s own action tendencies
and emotions, resulting from others’ evaluative reactions. If the perspective taken is not that of
a specific other, but of a generalized other, then the individual is enabled to judge her or his
own tendencies on the basis of impersonal attitudes, rules, and moral considerations (Mead,
1934). Thus, the self-reflective evaluation of emotions also relies on perspective taking. Mead
linked both consciousness of one’s emotions as well as judgments of their desirability and
appropriateness to the taking of perspectives.
This far, emotions are considered an integral part of social interactions, supporting the
ongoing mutual accommodation of actions. Therefore, emotions are temporally located and
extended. They are motivated and point to ensuing actions. Emotions are structured by social
perspectives, indicating one individual’s action tendency towards another individual.
Consciousness of emotions implies taking the perceptual perspective of the other to whom the
emotion is signalled. Finally, judging one’s emotions requires also taking the perspective of the
others’ interests, which determine their significance for others.
Situation appraisal and prototypical relational themes: Lazarus
The present-day dominant view conceives emotions as resulting from the evolution of a
functional system of semi-automatic action tendencies and as consisting of three elements:
First somatic, mainly physiological changes, second facial and corporal expressive movements,
and third a subjective feeling component (Frijda, 1986). This tri-componential view was already
present in Mead’s theorizing. It liberates the concept of emotion from relying exclusively on the
subjective feeling, and from any one specific element, as it can be signalled by any of the
components. This allows a functional interpretation of emotion. Also, together with the two
levels of consciousness associated with emotions, this conception allows for only apparently
contradictory concepts such as unconscious emotions. However, as emotions were not the
focus of Mead’s theorizing, he considered them only in their role for the reconstruction of a
natural history of symbolic interaction and the self.
What remains mysterious when Darwin’s, Wundt’s, and Mead’s phylogenetic theorizing is
applied to fully socialized human beings, is the initial motivation of the inhibited action. Wundt
and Mead had rooted motivation in drives. However, it appears implausible that any motivated
action involves an initial phase that may turn into an emotion if only the action is interrupted or
inhibited. Rather a flow of actions or interactions is usually structured by intentions (Oatley &
Johnson-Laird, 1987 – see below), and emotional reactions are evoked if a situation comes up
which hinders pursuing these intentions in a specific way. Emotions thus have an intentional
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
structure in that they always refer to a situation. This insight led Sigmund Freud to revise his
early theory of anxiety as automatically resulting from the inhibition of physical (sexual)
tension, to which emotion served as an alternative discharge path. In his revised theory, Freud
(1926) conceived anxiety as a reaction to interpreting a situation as dangerous based on earlier
life experiences. This interpretation generates a weak anxiety signal, which calls for shifting
attention to the imminent danger and motivates reacting to it. Only if the signal is ignored, or
the danger not removed, does anxiety grow in intensity.
Freud complemented the social communication view of emotion with an intrapsychic
communication view. However, in this view emotions signal an aspect of a situation to oneself
that urgently requires attention. While emotions communicate pragmatic requirements to the
self, they communicate the corresponding action tendencies to others.
In psychology, Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman (1984) elaborated this role of emotions
for communicating to oneself evaluations of the present situation. In their model, emotions
have a motivational background, termed personal interests or concerns (Frijda, 1986). Emotions
signal a situation in which something happens that affects these personal concerns. Appraisal
theories assume that humans continuously scan situations for their relevance to their concerns.
Lazarus differentiated two phases of appraisal. Primary appraisals regard the relevance of the
situation to concerns, specifically whether the situation is congruent or incongruent with these
concerns. Primary appraisals also assess, in which way concerns are affected by the situation.
This determines which emotion is produced. If the continuous interpretation and evaluation of
situations leads to a primary appraisal, a subsequent secondary appraisal judges additional
aspects of the situation, namely blame and credit, possibilities for coping, and anticipation of
how events will turn out, positively or negatively. If this second judgment also fulfills the
conditions for evoking an emotion, the three elements of emotions, physiological arousal,
corporal expression, and feeling are produced with a specific quality, preparing the individual
for the corresponding class of actions. When a situation is judged to be threatening the
individual’s concerns and cannot be easily dealt-with, fear or anxiety results, which prepares
the individual for action directed at escaping or diverting the threat.
Most appraisal theories assume a set of basic, qualitatively different emotions. The strong
version of these theories assumes basic emotions which are universal and biologically based
(e.g., Ekman, 1984). Appraisal theories also differ as to the number and nature of the cognitive
processes involved in the appraisal process. Many theories suggest a set of situation
components, which are tested sequentially (Ortony, Clore, & Collins, 1988; Scherer, 1984;
Scherer, Wallbott & Summerfield, 1986; Moors, Ellsworth, Scherer & Frijda, 2013). Others have
proposed more holistic matching processes, comparing situations to prototypical situations
(e.g., Russell & Barrett, 1999).
In popular depictions of emotion-eliciting situations, a human encounters a dangerous
animal such as a bear (James, 1884) or a snake (LeDoux, 1998). The vast majority of emotional
situations, however, involves other human beings with whom one communicates (Scherer et
al., 1986). Consequently, Lazarus (1991) defined prototypical emotion eliciting situations in
terms of core relational themes.
There are two communicative functions of emotions: signalling others what we are about to
do, and signalling to ourselves the presence of a situation that requires attending. Confronting
these two functions, it might seem that the taking of the perspective of others appears late in
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
the emotion process and therefore may not be essential to it. The appraisal of the situation
necessary for self-communication logically precedes the expression of the emotion which is
necessary for communicating it to others. However, three arguments speak for the essential
role of perspective taking in the emotion process.
In concordance with Mead, a first argument is that situation appraisals may lead to
physiological and expressive action tendencies which are not inhibited but the action is actually
carried out. In that case, the action tendency is communicated to the other while the individual
is unaware of the emotion. Often only the effect of the action, the other’s reaction, enables the
individual to realize the emotion that drove the action. For example, I may raise my voice and
attack the other before I become aware of being angry. In this constellation, emotion first
communicates to the other, and to the self only secondarily.
Second, physiological reaction and corporal expression are aspects of the same process, and
do not follow from feeling, but are, as many theories argue, the immediate object of the
sensations that form the basis of feelings (James, 1884; 1890). Identifying a feeling requires
understanding the meaning of expressive and physiological reactions for the other. Once learnt,
expressive and physiological reactions may be interpreted without taking the perspectives of
specific others in a given situation.
Perspective-taking is involved not only in the communication and becoming aware of
emotions, but, third, perspective taking is also required by the appraisal process itself, at least
in many relevant cases, if not in all cases. In the case of fear, interpreting a situation as
threatening requires understanding the intentions of others or anticipating natural events. In
the case of self-conscious emotions such as pride, shame, and guilt, the evaluation of oneself or
one’s acts by others is essential. Appraising angering situations most often requires judging
aggressors’ intentions and their capability of foreseeing the consequences of their actions. This
is necessary to judge their responsibility for the harm they have done. Understanding
saddening events often requires comparing past states of having something or being with
someone with present or future states in which this is lost and absent.
Furthermore, if emotions are basically part of an ongoing process of negotiation between
two or more individuals, the situation to be appraised most often centrally includes others’
emotions. Therefore, understanding others’ emotions is an essential element of appraisals.
Understanding emotions includes the simple identification of others’ emotion expressions. A
more complete understanding of others’ emotions requires understanding the reasons for the
emotions, by seeing how others interpret and evaluate a situation. This understanding of
others’ emotions in turn may motivate an emotional reaction by the individual.
In his later work, Lazarus (Lazarus, 1991; 1999; 2006) argued that the emotion process
needs to be extended beyond the immediate situation. While a focus on emotion expression
suggests that emotions only last seconds to minutes (Ekman, 1984, cf. Scherer, 2009), Frijda
(1986, p. 40f.) discusse a more extended duration of action tendencies, basically binding it to
the duration of the eliciting situation. Lazarus argues that the temporal frame for analysing
emotions needs to be extended to cover the reasons for different individuals to appraise similar
situations differently. Individuals interpret situations on the background of their biographical
experiences. These create highly individual expectations, sensibilities, and relationship patterns.
A critical remark by a friend may induce fear of what more is to come, anger about the breach
of perceived norms of friendship, or sadness about the friend’s negative opinion. The emotional
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
reaction also depends on the emotional dispositions of general anxiousness, irritability, and
depressiveness of the individual. Tomkins (1978) speaks of nuclear scripts and De Sousa (1987)
of paradigm scenarios to refer to individual prototypical situations that are extracted from
repeated emotional experiences early in life, which are used to interpret the emotional
meaning of later situations.
In addition, Lazarus (1999) argues that the concept of emotion process needs to be
temporally extended to include the entire process of coping with the emotion-eliciting situation
and with the ensuing emotion. If coping is difficult, it may extend for a long time. This is
especially true if problem-focussed coping is unsuccessful and individuals resort to assimilative
strategies of emotion-focussed coping, trying to adapt to the situation and change their
emotional evaluation. These coping efforts may be directed at any phase of the emotion
process, by reassessing the situation, reinterpreting the arousal, expression, or feeling, and by
altering the action tendency.
The strongest argument for extending the temporal frame of the emotion process is that
emotions are usually embedded in an ongoing communication, in which emotions mutually
influence each other. Communication tends to be more emotional when it is with significant
others with whom we share relationships which extend back in time and have developed
specific expectations and obligations.
These considerations led Lazarus (1999) to suggest that emotions might best be studied by
using narratives. Narratives provide a background in terms of pre-history, characters, and
context; they provide a provocation of the emotion, and a story of the attempts to cope with it.
Lazarus conceived prototypical narratives for each of the most important emotions. Indeed,
appraisal theorists use autobiographical narratives to study the kinds of situations and their
aspects that tend to evoke specific emotions (e.g., Scherer, Wallbott, & Summerfield, 1986).
However, Lazarus stopped short of suggesting that narratives might play a role in the emotion
process itself, limiting its use to serving as a tool for research, but not for the individual
confronted with an emotional situation.
Fictional narratives form sensibilities and help understand emotions:
Among emotion psychologists, Keith Oatley (1992) has most explicitly attributed narrative a
genuine role in in the emotion process. This derives from his conception of emotions as action-
sequences which are structured by intentions and their outcome. Oatley and Johnson-Laird
(1987) couched their emotion theory in terms of goals and plans, emotions serving to evaluate
the progress of goal pursuit at junctures of the path towards goal fulfilment. Junctures are
points in the quest for reaching a goal where there is a significant change in the assessment of
the outcome of the plan.
True to the computer metaphor of cognitive psychology, Oatley conceived reading fictional
literature as a simulation of real life, the only simulation that can match the complexity of real
life. Oatley followed Rumelhart (1975), Stein and Glenn (1979), and Trabasso (Trabasso & van
den Broek, 1985) in conceiving stories as being constructed like a plan. Thus, stories are the
natural medium to explore the intricacies of human intentions and wishes, how they interact
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
between individuals over the course of time. And they are the ideal medium to understand
emotions. Emotions require an effort to understand the personal meaning of experiences,
because they are, more often than not, oblique to us. Although we have a hunch how we feel,
we often do not know why, or what the object of our emotion is.
For Oatley (1992), sometimes feelings are experienced without knowing why. He suggests
conceiving of emotions without necessary reference to an object, or eliciting situation. Feelings,
he argues, may be identified without their object, and then the individual may ask for the
matching object. We may feel sad or happy without knowing the reason. But this way of
speaking suggests that we have a hard time thinking of emotions without thinking of what they
evaluate. When we are sad we look for what we have lost or what we have been disappointed
by. If we do not succeed, we think of the emotion as unjustified. We may try to suppress it, and
may even think that we are too sensitive or that we are distorting reality by reacting, for
instance, with sadness to experiences which do not justify being sad. But I will discuss the need
to justify emotions later in chapters 7 and 11. Of importance at this point is that fictional
narratives which we read in books or watch as films, offer plots that lay out complex webs of
wishes and their progressive interweaving, the success of which is only known in the end.
Fictional narratives offer a playground on which we can exercise appraising, interpreting, or
simply understanding complex situations that elicit complex emotions. To understand these
emotions one needs to understand not only the immediately preceding situation, but the entire
story. The only apparently old-fashioned conclusion by Oatley (2011) is that reading novels
helps promote understanding of social interaction, relationships, other people and oneself,
especially their emotions (cf. e.g., De Mulder, Hakemulder, van den Berghe, Klaassen, & van
Berkum, 2017; Mumper & Gerrig, 2017)
Keith Oatley propagates a central role of narrative in eliciting, processing, and
communicating emotions. However, he is exclusively concerned with fictional, literary
narratives which we consume. The objects of this book, in contrast, are personal
autobiographical narratives. One difference to novels is that they are told with a claim for
truthfulness and authenticity. Another difference is that individuals not only listen to, but also
actively produce these narratives. People narrate emotional and problematic experiences
frequently (Rimé, 2009), to express emotions, to understand emotions, and to share the
experience in the hope that it will help them to cope with the event and the emotions it elicits.
The literature concerned with this function of everyday narrating, mostly ignores the specific
structure and potential of narratives, treating them as an emotional outlet or cognitive device.
Overview of the argument
My central argument is that narrative is central to emotion, that emotion in turn is also for
making a point in narratives, and that perspectives are a central structuring device for both.
After I have outlined three elements of narratives, specifically, narrative sequence, evaluation,
and perspectives, the argument will take three steps. I will start with the relation of recipients’
emotions to qualities of the narrative text, moving on to the narrators’ emotions prior to,
during, and following the narrative process and their relation to the narrative text, and finish
with the active contribution of listeners to narrating emotions.
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
On the receiving side, the reader/listener co-determines which emotions she or he
experiences by taking a specific perspective, like that of a protagonist, for example, an art
consumer who judges the aesthetic qualities of the narrative, or a moral stance. The first thesis
of the book is that readers’/listeners’ emotions are influenced by which perspectives narratives
offer and which they do not offer. This applies not only to readers of fiction, but also to
listeners of everyday autobiographical accounts. I propose a rough tripartite categorization of
degrees of perspective representation in texts. First, a diversified representation of different
temporal and personal perspectives (comprehensive perspective representation) evokes more
overall empathy and a moderate emotional reaction. Second, restriction to a partial subjective
protagonist perspective (dramatic narration) elicits stronger emotions of empathy and
sympathy with the past protagonist. Third, a behavioral perspective without subjective
perspectives (impersonal narration) tends to elicit interactional rather than empathic emotions
that are directed not empathically at a protagonist, but directly at the present narrator.
Narrating emotional experiences may help the narrator to master the narrated situation and
its emotional impact. The second thesis of the book is that the degree to which the narrator
succeeds in taking a variety of perspectives in narrating an event reflects the maturity of
defense mechanisms used and indicates how well the narrator has coped with the event. This
implies that narrating experiences is more helpful when diverse perspectives are represented in
the narrative. This resonates with clinical theories of impaired empathy and mentalizing in
more severe psychopathology (Kernberg, Fonagy) as well as with theories of the use of emotion
and insight in narratives for coping (Pennebaker, Stiles). Thus, it is the more or less partial
exclusion of perspectives from narratives that communicates to the listener the emotions that
the narrator has defended against.
While the first two theses abstract from the interactional nature of narrating by focussing
on the relation between text and recipient and text and narrator, the third thesis regards
listeners’ role in the shaping of the narrative text and in influencing narrators’ abilities and
proclivities. Listeners not only facilitate narrating by demonstrating interest and accepting and
reinforcing narrators’ emotional stance and evaluations of events. There are special
asymmetrical situations in which a more mature or a professionally skilled listener aims at not
only emotionally supporting the narrator, but at modifying the narrator’s story so as to help
with coping with the event and to improve the narrator’s narrative and coping abilities. The
third thesis of the book is that in socializing interactions between parents and children or
adolescents, and therapy talk between narrating patients and co-narrating psychotherapists,
listeners influence both the narrative and narrators abilities by challenging parts of the
narrative and complementing perspectives. In both cases, co-narrators focus on the processing
of emotions through the building of narratives. However, they also differ in the degree to which
listeners challenge narrators’ perceptions. Thus, this section pursues the idea that narrative co-
construction is not only one possible, but the decisive communicative process through which
emotion-regulation is learned and through which insight-oriented psychotherapies may heal
mental disorders.
The book is divided into four sections. Part I provides an overview of how emotions are
represented in narratives, providing a toolkit for later parts to relate perspectives in narrative
texts both to recipient and producer emotions. It also provides an overview of useful concepts
for the formal analysis of autobiographical narratives.
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
Chapter 2 presents the overall structure of narratives, especially oral narratives (Propp,
Todorov, Labov, story grammarians), and the place of emotions in narratives. The kind of
situation narrated may more or less resemble the prototypical situation for one emotion or
Chapter 3 deals with ways to represent emotion in narratives. Some are not perspective-
related, such as nonverbal means, evaluative devices such as adverbs, intensifiers, lexicon
(Labov), figurative language (Kövecses) and other rhetorical means such as repetition and
ellipsis. Narrative focus is perspective-related (Genette, Bal, Schmid) and is implied by the
information listeners are provided, ranging from a behavioral (no perspectives) to a subjective
(one protagonist perspective) to an omniscient perspective (all perspectives).
Chapter 4 is more formal, and introduces linguistic means to convey explicit perspectives,
such as general evaluations, naming emotions and mental verbs (perceptual, emotional,
cognitive, volitional), which may refer to different temporal and personal perspectives. In
addition, dramatic narrating is presented as inducing emotions in the listener by pulling her or
him into the perspective of a specific protagonist (historic present, shift of origo of deictic
terms, direct speech).
Part II is dedicated to the narrative emotions of recipients in relation to the formal
properties of narratives. This part introduces various narrative emotions (chapter 5) and
discusses thesis 1 that perspective representation is a central narrative mechanism of eliciting
emotions (chapter 6), and complements it with other mechanisms (chapter 7).
Chapter 5 introduces six kinds of recipient emotions, including direct reactions to the
narrated scene and protagonists, aesthetic emotions, empathetic emotions, interactional
emotions directed at the narrator, and emotions stemming from personal autobiographical
memories that are elicited by the narrative. Narrative emotions will be differentiated from non-
narrative emotions in terms of perspectives involved. Then psychological theories of
empathetic narrative emotions, involving concepts of empathy, sympathy, identification,
immersion, transportation, and distance (Oatley, Green) will be related to text qualities and
transferred from fictional narratives to autobiographical narratives.
Chapter 6 introduces the emotional effects of different kinds and degrees of emotion
representation in narratives. Differences between everyday oral narratives and cultural
products such as literature and film are spelled out to prepare the grounds for the global thesis
that the degree and diversification of perspectives represented in a text influences recipient
emotions. This will be exemplified by autobiographical narratives. Other aspects of narratives
that also influence recipient emotions such as the severity of the complication, the moral
evaluation of characters and the general liking of characters are complemented.
Chapter 7 takes up some of the complications regarding my thesis encountered in chapter 6,
expanding the model to sustain the main thesis. Three aspects of oral narratives that may
modify the effect of perspectives on emotions are discussed. A lack of plausibility and
believability taints possible empathic appeals of narratives. Also, if protagonist or narrator
exhibit emotions that are deemed inappropriate on various grounds, recipients may be put off
and refuse to react with empathic emotions. Incongruencies in the communication of emotions
between verbal, paraverbal, and nonverbal modalities may negatively affect believability and
thereby also the emotional reaction to the narrative. Finally, I discuss how some narratives may
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
appear as a defensive, implausible, or insane story in everyday communication, but in other
contexts may actually be appreciated as aesthetically appealing.
Part III turns to the psychology of the narrator. The focus shifts from the effects of narrative
form on recipients to what different forms of narrating tell us about the narrator and to how
the process of narrating changes the form of narrative and what this does to the narrator.
Chapter 8 turns to the influence of the narrator’s personality and mental health on the
quality of narrative and the narrative representation of perspectives. Besides influences of the
narrators’ personality and their present emotional state, thesis 2 states that the degree of
mental disturbance is related to the degree to which narrative perspectives are excluded from
autobiographical narratives for defensive purposes. The background to this contention is the
clinical experience that the severity of psychopathology, or the immaturity of defense
mechanisms, is related to deficits in the ability to empathize (Kernberg) or mentalize (Fonagy).
This is complemented by the clinical experience (e.g., Kernberg) that the patient’s severity of
psychopathology relates to the strength of emotional counter-transference reactions of the
therapist. This is concordant with thesis 1, which proposes that as more perspectives are
excluded, involuntary emotional recipient emotions increase strengthen. I delineate the five
most important aspects of narratives that may be affected and distorted by defensive
Chapter 9 reviews theories and evidence regarding the cathartic, cognitive, and social
mechanisms of the activity of narrating emotional events that lead to improved coping and
beneficial effects on the life of the narrator (Pennebaker, Rimé). Narrating problematic
experiences is one of the central mechanisms of change in insight-oriented psychotherapies. I
then discuss which narrative form might indicate successful coping with experiences, while
considering various aspects of good stories or stories with a closure. Finally, I review evidence
on the nature of narratives that help processing problematic experiences, considering the
taking of an outside perspective and the switching of perspectives as most efficient
Chapter 10 focusses specifically on the repeated narrating of experiences which is involved
in coping with specific experiences. Diverse factors such as memory, social validation, and
emotional coping influence how narratives change over repeated tellings. However, the change
of narratives in the process of coping through repeated telling is not a linear, but probably a
curvilinear process. I borrow Stiles’ model of the assimilation of problematic experiences in
psychotherapy to suggest that actually narrating an event, then integrating more perspectives
to provide a fuller account of the event, and finally reducing the narrative to a simple,
straightforward account might be the normative trajectory of narratives in successful coping.
The final part IV explores the active role of recipients as co-narrators in changing not only
narratives of specific events, but also changing narrators’ abilities to narratively process
experiences through narrating. Thesis 3 suggests that a major mechanism for the helpful adding
of perspectives to narratives (thesis 2) is an active co-narrating by recipients. I then pursue and
illustrate the thesis in two contexts that aim at changing narrators’ abilities, socialization and
Chapter 11 reviews the necessary involvement of listeners in everyday narrative practices in
experimental and sociolinguistic studies in natural contexts. Building on extensive work on the
socializing effects of mothers’ co-narrating with their preschool-age children, I propose a
Tilmann Habermas Emotion and Narrative: Perspectives on Autobiographical Storytelling
taxonomy specifically of co-narrative interventions aiming at helping narrators cope with their
emotions and the experiences which elicit them. Finally, I illustrate some of the co-narrative
moves with excerpts from mother-adolescent co-narrations of emotional experiences collected
by Alice Graneist (Graneist & Habermas, 2017).
Chapter 12 describes the specificity of narrating in the context of psychotherapy, and more
specifically in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and provides an overview of therapeutic
interventions described by conversation analysts. These are not specifically described in
relation to narrative. To this end, I discuss excerpts from four psychotherapies to illustrate the
functions of a variety of therapist interventions. Different kinds of interventions challenge
patients’ narratives and add perspectives to them.
Chapter 13 summarizes the argument and spells out some implications for the fields of
psychoanalysis, emotion, and narrative. I advocate the use of narrative analyses for
psychoanalytic research as an objective approach to unconscious defense processes against
emotional experiences. Emotion research could profit enormously from studying narratives as
they offer an objective empirical approach to naturally occurring phenomena. Narrative theory
could benefit from bridging the gap between artistic and everyday oral narratives, as called for
by Fludernik in her Natural Narratology (2002), and from looking at motivated distortions of
narratives to defend against emotions. The book ends with a plea and program for a narrative
emotion psychology.
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... Although most approaches focus on the role of narrative in knowledge representation (e.g., [20]), it can be argued that narrative is also related to emotions. Some authors even argue that emotions and narratives have a homologous structure [21][22][23]. The present study focuses on two homologous structural features of narratives and emotions, which are defined in the context of a popular distinction between the three levels of a narrative, including the story, which concerns the events recounted, the discourse, which concerns how the events are recounted, and narration, which concerns the situation in which the events are recounted [24]. ...
... Specifically, the participants were not presented with any information about the prospective reader or readers of their autobiographical narratives, thus they recounted their memories in an impersonal rather than interactive setting, which might result in less elaborate reappraisals of past events. This latter finding is in line with the view that emotions and narratives have a homologous structure [21][22][23], which has several implications for future research. First, it significantly expands the range of those linguistic features that are potentially useful in emotion recognition, which is an important advantage of the proposed approach. ...
... Since narrative structure is rather complex, many narrative structural features can be tested for their value in emotion recognition. Besides goal-based structure [23] and narrative evaluation, Habermas [21] also enumerates actions and normality. The inclusion of these homologous structural features may further improve the effectiveness of NLP-based emotion recognition. ...
Full-text available
One important application of natural language processing (NLP) is the recognition of emotions in text. Most current emotion analyzers use a set of linguistic features such as emotion lexicons, n-grams, word embeddings, and emoticons. This study proposes a new strategy to perform emotion recognition, which is based on the homologous structure of emotions and narratives. It is argued that emotions and narratives share both a goal-based structure and an evaluation structure. The new strategy was tested in an empirical study with 117 participants who recounted two narratives about their past emotional experiences, including one positive and one negative episode. Immediately after narrating each episode, the participants reported their current affective state using the Affect Grid. The goal-based structure and evaluation structure of the narratives were analyzed with a hybrid method. First, a linguistic analysis of the texts was carried out, including tokenization, lemmatization, part-of-speech tagging, and morphological analysis. Second, an extensive set of rule-based algorithms was used to analyze the goal-based structure of, and evaluations in, the narratives. Third, the output was fed into machine learning classifiers of narrative structural features that previously proved to be effective predictors of the narrator’s current affective state. This hybrid procedure yielded a high average F1 score (0.72). The results are discussed in terms of the benefits of employing narrative structure analysis in NLP-based emotion recognition.
... Sie stellt Fragen und versucht detaillierte Informationen zu liefern. Außerdem versucht die Bezugsperson die Antwort des Kindes in die eigene zu integrieren (Habermas, 2019). Bezugspersonen, die einen sehr elaborierten Gesprächsstil aufweisen, erzeugen einen "Erzähl-Flow" und geben mehr detaillierte Informationen preis (Fivush & Fromhoff, 1988). ...
... Reminiscing kann ebenfalls eingesetzt werden, um die emotionale Entwicklung von Kindern zu fördern (u.a. Habermas, 2019;Laible & Song, 2006). Deshalb soll in dem folgenden Abschnitt auf aktuelle Forschungsergebnisse und Trainings eingegangen werden. ...
... Unter Reminiscing versteht man das gemeinsame (emotionsbezogene) Erinnern zwischen Kindern und ihren Bezugspersonen (Habermas, 2019). Reminiscing kann von den Bezugspersonen eingesetzt werden, um nicht nur schwierige, alltägliche, emotionsbezogene Ereignisse, sondern auch langandauernde Herausforderungen (z.B. ...
Full-text available
Im deutschsprachigen Raum fehlt es an gezielten präventiven Maßnahmen für Kindergartenfachkräfte, um das Emotionswissen von Kindern kontextsensibel und alltagsintegriert über die Sprache in Routinesituationen zu fördern. Diese Lücke soll durch die Entwicklung und Evaluation eines Emotionswissen-Trainings (Em:-)s) für Kindergartenfachkräfte geschlossen werden.
... Strukturování negativních událostí do narativní formy, a to jak vyprávěním, tak také psaním, umožňuje znovuprožití emocí a vede tak k emoční katarzi. Narativní zpracování také napomáhá integraci myšlenek a emocí, které jsou spojeny s těžkými událostmi (Habermas, 2019). Tento proces, jak opakovaně ověřili Pennebaker a Seagal při studii psaných narativů (1999), podporuje zvládání, jelikož konstruovaný příběh dodává vyprávějícímu pocit rozřešení a související emoce jsou tak lépe regulovatelné. ...
... Takový typ přehodnocení příběhu vyžaduje určitá doplnění. Může dojít například k obohacení perspektivy vypravěče o perspektivy dalších postav, které byly předtím opomenuty (Habermas, 2019). Další možností je pomyslné udělání "kroku zpět" a reflektivní přehodnocení událostí z jiné (přítomné) časové perspektivy (Freeman, 2010;Habermas, 2019). ...
... Může dojít například k obohacení perspektivy vypravěče o perspektivy dalších postav, které byly předtím opomenuty (Habermas, 2019). Další možností je pomyslné udělání "kroku zpět" a reflektivní přehodnocení událostí z jiné (přítomné) časové perspektivy (Freeman, 2010;Habermas, 2019). V procesu přehodnocování může dojít k proměně artikulovaných emocí, např. ...
... So wichtig es für die psychische Gesundheit meist ist, einzelne schwierige Erfahrungen angemessen sich und anderen erzählen zu können (Habermas, 2019;Pennebaker et al., 1997), so bedeutsam ist doch auch eine umfassendere biographische Perspektive. Das Einordnen von Erlebnissen und Veränderungen in eine halbwegs kohärente und einigermaßen über die Zeit hinweg konsistente Lebensgeschichte verleiht individuellen Leben Sinn und der eigenen Person eine gewisse Kontinuität über viele Veränderungen hinweg. ...
Veröffentlicht in "Report Psychologie" - Mitgliederzeitschrift des Bund Deutscher Psychologen (BDP) ISSN 0344-9602 In diesem Beitrag berichten wir von der Longitudinalstudie MainLife. Einer von uns beiden (TH) hat die Studie geplant und über die Jahre fortgeführt, die andere (TM) hat die letzte Welle mit erhoben und begonnen, den gesamten Datensatz mit auszuwerten.
... The main objective of this study was to complement these previous studies by analysing participants' autobiographical saudade accounts. Autobiographical narratives represent a relevant source of information in addition to that provided by quantitative data analyses (Habermas, 2019;Weststrate, 2018). This is particularly true in the area of emotions such as anger (Baumeister et al., 1990), inspiration (Trash & Elliot, 2004), or nostalgia (Holak & Havelena, 1992;Wildschut et al., 2006). ...
For Lusophones, saudade is a common psychological experience related with the physical separation from relevant people and/or familiar locations. The subjective nature of saudade was studied using both qualitative and quantitative methodology. The sample consisted of 199 Portuguese college students. Participants were asked to express the circumstances that usually trigger a saudade experience, the feelings they usually associate with the experience, and the main coping strategies they usually try to implement when confronted with the experience. The saudade experience was conceived to be primarily triggered in situations of spatial or spatial-temporal distancing from significant individuals. The emotion most often mentioned directly was sadness. During saudade, some people try to sustain the emotion in different ways, for example by approaching objects that may prolong it; others tend to get rid of the emotion as quickly as possible, and still others tend to accept the experience and do nothing special to change it. The use of quantitative tools showed that the usual strength of the saudade experience was close to the maximum value.
What do we do with emotion in biographical research: is it an end in itself, a symptom to be explained, a thread to be pulled? This paper presents an experiment in methodology within a field of biographical methods that involved revisiting a single qualitative interview after the elapse of thirty years. The interview with 22 year old Stacey was troubling at the time it was generated (as captured in fieldnotes and interview transcript) and was still troubling when these documents were reprised. Naming sadness as an emotion at play in the material took teamwork and emotionally engaged methods of analysis and interpretation. Working with psychoanalytically informed theories we show how a curiosity about emotion and a willingness to follow feelings can help connect individual stories to collective histories. The paper presents group based analyses and writing methods as a way of tracing the psychic logics of story through scenic material (what we call ‘emotional bombshells’). We consider the difference that time might make to an analysis, considering the possibility that more time might produce more perspective through allowing the original context to be rendered (more) visible. We also suggest that clock time can be transcended when considering unconscious processes and experiences that resist narrative. Recontextualising research materials can enrich meaning and further realise the value of qualitative interviews that always contain more to be heard, resituated in new times and relationships. This is not simply an exercise in nostalgia but is offered as a method in its own right, reanimation as a route to the generation of new intergenerational knowledge of a thick present in which past, present and future co-exist.
This book contains excerpts of life stories from 118 individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and major depressive disorder. This library of personal narratives, heavily reproduced and quoted throughout the text, presents a composite image of the ways in which narrative identity can be affected by mental illness while also being a resource for personal recovery. Those researching, studying or practicing in mental health professions will find a wealth of humanizing first-person perspectives on mental illness that foster perspective-taking and aid patient-centered treatment and study. Researchers of narrative psychology will find a unique set of life stories synthesized with existing literature on identity and recovery. Moving towards intervention, the authors include a 'guide for narrative repair' with the aim of healing narrative identity damage and fostering growth of adaptive narrative identity.
Das Mobile of Life® – deutsch Lebensmobile – regt zur ganzheitlichen, metakognitiven Auseinandersetzung mit dem eigenen Lebensentwurf an. In der Beratung, im Coaching oder in der Therapie ermöglicht es Menschen, sich darüber bewusst zu werden, welches innere Narrativ sie in der Gestaltung ihres Lebens leitet und welche Probleme und Herausforderungen damit verbunden sein können. Es verdeutlicht, inwieweit innere Narrative die persönliche Lebensführung, verschiedene Lebensbereiche und das subjektive Lebensgefühl beeinflussen können. Erzähltes wird visuell übersetzt. Unverhältnismäßigkeiten, Schieflagen und kritische Entwicklungen werden aufgedeckt. Die Erkenntnisse ermutigen zur Neuausrichtung und Wandlung. Neue Überschriften für die Lebensgestaltung können formuliert und in einen neuen, selbstbestimmten Entwurf übersetzt werden.
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Introduction: Narrative identity is an essential level of personality, and to develop, the life narrative should entail both stability and change (Adler, 2019). In this study, we examine the meaning of change in repeated narratives about occupational experiences. Method: Fifty-nine individuals were interviewed at age 25, 29 and 33. In these interviews 544 narratives and 142 sets of repeated narratives were identified, of these 39 sets of repeated narratives had changed between interviews. A thematic narrative analysis was conducted focusing on the meaning of change in repeated narratives. Result: The analysis resulted in five narrative themes: Gaining insights about one's identity, Transforming views of past challenges, Increasing agency, Increasing motivation for occupational commitments, and Accentuating competence and importance. In the context of occupational experiences, the results from the narrative themes illuminate how narrators repeatedly engage with the same narrative to elaborate their narrative identity. Conclusion: This study presents a novel method for capturing identity development, which show that changes in repeated narratives can entail important information about identity growth as well as the way narrators create new stories of their previous experiences in order to continue to make sense of their lives.
Background: Expressive writing is a promising tool to heal the wounds with words. Aims: This meta-analysis evaluated the current state of efficacy of expressive writing on depression, anxiety and stress symptoms among healthy and subclinical samples. Materials and methods: Thirty-one experimental studies (N = 4012) with randomized controlled trials and follow-up assessments were analysed. Results: Results showed that expressive writing had an overall small but significant effect (Hedges' g = -0.12, 95% CI [-0.21, -0.04]) on reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. Change score analyses suggested that the intervention effect emerged after a delay, as evidenced by assessments at follow-up periods. Moderator analyses indicated that the effect sizes varied as a function of one intervention feature: interval. Studies that implemented short intervals (1-3 days) between writing sessions yielded stronger effects (G diff = -0.18, p = .01) relative to studies that implemented medium intervals (4-7 days) or long intervals (>7 days). The effects of expressive writing remained consistent across other intervention features including focus, instruction, number of sessions, topic repetition and delivery mode. Discussion: Together, these findings provide evidence for the delayed, durable effect of expressive writing and underscore the importance of scheduling writing sessions at short intervals. Conclusion: Implications for incorporating expressive writing into clinical practice and daily life are discussed.
Interpreting Figurative Meaning critically evaluates the recent empirical work from psycholinguistics and neuroscience examining the successes and difficulties associated with interpreting figurative language. There is now a huge, often contradictory literature on how people understand figures of speech. Gibbs and Colston argue that there may not be a single theory or model that adequately explains both the processes and products of figurative meaning experience. Experimental research may ultimately be unable to simply adjudicate between current models in psychology, linguistics and philosophy of how figurative meaning is interpreted. Alternatively, the authors advance a broad theoretical framework, motivated by ideas from 'dynamical systems theory', that describes the multiple, interacting influences which shape people's experiences of figurative meaning in discourse. This book details past research and theory, offers a critical assessment of this work and sets the stage for a new vision of figurative experience in human life.
Das mehrfache Erzählen der gleichen Geschichte hat einen festen Platz in unserem Alltag und in unserer Kultur - sei es als Anekdote im Freundeskreis, als wiederholte Erzählung der Krankheitsgeschichte im Arzt-Patient-Gespräch oder auch als literarische Bearbeitung. Umso erstaunlicher ist es, dass dieses Phänomen bisher noch nicht Gegenstand interdisziplinärer Forschung war. Die Beiträge des Bandes behandeln das Wiedererzählen aus den Blickwinkeln verschiedener Forschungsrichtungen und beleuchten die Formen und Funktionen von Konstanz und Variation in den unterschiedlichen Erzählversionen in Zusammenhang mit ihren jeweils spezifischen Gesprächs- bzw. Entstehungskontexten.
Das mehrfache Erzählen der gleichen Geschichte hat einen festen Platz in unserem Alltag und in unserer Kultur - sei es als Anekdote im Freundeskreis, als wiederholte Erzählung der Krankheitsgeschichte im Arzt-Patient-Gespräch oder auch als literarische Bearbeitung. Umso erstaunlicher ist es, dass dieses Phänomen bisher noch nicht Gegenstand interdisziplinärer Forschung war. Die Beiträge des Bandes behandeln das Wiedererzählen aus den Blickwinkeln verschiedener Forschungsrichtungen und beleuchten die Formen und Funktionen von Konstanz und Variation in den unterschiedlichen Erzählversionen in Zusammenhang mit ihren jeweils spezifischen Gesprächs- bzw. Entstehungskontexten.
This major volume of original essays maps the place of emotion in human nature, through a discussion of the relation between consciousness and body; by analysing the importance of emotion for human agency by pointing to the ways in which practical rationality may be enhanced, as well as hindered, by emotions; and by exploring questions of value in making sense of emotions at a political, ethical and personal level. Leading researchers in the field reflect on the nature of human feelings, how and why we understand what other people feel, and the way in which our values become involved in specific emotional phenomena, such as guilt, fear, shame, amusement, or love. This collection addresses important questions in the philosophy of mind and comments on the implications of research in biology, cognitive psychology, psychoanalysis, and narrative theory for the philosophical understanding of emotions.
What actually happens in counselling interactions? How does counselling bring about change? How do clients end up producing new and alternative stories of their lives and relationships? By addressing these questions and others, this book explores the narrative counselling process in the context where it is enacted: the unfolding conversation between counsellor and clients. Through a transdisciplinary approach that combines conversation analysis and systemic functional linguistic theory, Muntigl demonstrates how language is used in couples counselling, how language use changes over the course of counselling, and how this process provides clients with new linguistic resources that help them change their social relationships. This book will be a valuable resource not only for linguists and discourse analysts, but also for researchers and practitioners in the fields of counselling, psychotherapy, psychology, and medicine.
How does a literary text get to have literary form, and what is the relation between literary form and linguistic form? This theoretical study of linguistic structure in literature focuses on verse and narrative from a linguistic perspective. Nigel Fabb provides a simple and realistic linguistic explanation of poetic form in English from 1500–1900, drawing on the English and American verse and oral narrative tradition, as well as contemporary criticism. In recent years literary theory has paid relatively little attention to form; this book argues that form is interesting. Fabb offers a new linguistic approach to how metre and rhythm work in poetry, based on pragmatic theory and provides a pragmatic explanation of formal ambiguity and indeterminacy and their aesthetic effects. He also uses linguistics to examine the experience of poetry. Language and Literary Structure will be welcomed by students and researchers in linguistics, literary theory and stylistics.