Stephen Madigan PhD
Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy
Paper: Re-authoring Conversations (no date)
Madigan tells of the “withered traces” (page 2) reformed through Narrative Therapy as “unique outcomes” – areas of neglected memory bolstered by the retelling process. Madigan likens the routine sequential recall of memory reconstruction as performative plot sequences that serves to build new blocks of self-identity; eventually forming a scaffolding of resurrected memory prompted by therapy-led investigation. Madigan reflects on Epson and White’s (1989) comparison of the authoring of “texts of literary merit” in order to initiate “dramatic re-engagement” with their own experiences of life. This serves as a forceful mode of reclaiming self-story in a vigorous mode of reconstruction, even filling in blanks and determining the shape of future action (page 4). This mode of dramatic intervention arguably lends itself to the literary expression of story in fictional reimagining, where literary merit might translate equally into artistic merit. Madigan establishes through the distinction made by Bruner (1986, 1990) of the two prominent modes of thinking and constructing reality; argument and a “good story”, of truth and of likeness (page 5) emphasising man’s predisposition to modes of narrative in the face of “heartless” empiricism (Bruner, 1986).
Creating an significant narrative event (such as a film) may serve to more effectively engage cognitive processing, engage imagination, and consideration of potential success. Alternatives of low-level retelling in the modes of self-help have mostly failed to impact feelings or behaviours in my experience. Indeed the commitment to a major undertaking has thus far been the only means to break through the doldrums of self monologue and dry structuralist self definition (for example the taxonomy of labelling) into "non-structuralist categories of identity – intentions and purposes, values and beliefs, hopes, dreams and visions, commitments to ways of living"; Madigan in a conversation with White, (page 5). The idea of "visions" as a mechanism for retelling is a compelling one.