Narrative Truth, Historical Truth

Posted by on August 7, 2017 6:31 am
Categories: Mind

I got to get working on this one.

this voice of mine is crucial. I need to develop it… and Chris, Laura and DocDee as well.


I will get actual quotes later, meanwhile here are some excerpts from the reviews of this book.

While Freud never explicitly discussed the narrative character of the analytic experience, later writers such as Sherwood and Spence have pointed to its central importance and have shown the ways in which the psychoanalytic dialogue seeks to uncover the analysand’s efforts to maintain a certain kind of narrative discontinuity. To remember, then is precisely not to recall events as isolated; it is to become capable of forming meaningful narrative sequences.

In Narrative Truth and Historical Truth, Donald Spence suggests that psychoanalytic narratives should be thought of more as construction than as reconstruction, that psychoanalysts give up the archaeological model and think of interpretation as a pragmatic statement with no necessary referent in the past — in short that narrative truth replace historical truth. The test of this truth is a therapeutic one, and Spence notes that Freud came to take the position that “an assured conviction of the truth of the construction … achieves the same therapeutic result as a recaptured memory . Spence compares this construction to an artistic and rhetorical product.

As defined by psychologist Donald Spence, historical truth involves concrete objects and events; a memory is historically true if it can be factually verified. Narrative truth involves the connections between events, which are not verifiable because they are based on values, interpretations, and emotions. A memory has narrative truth when it captures an experience to the satisfaction of those telling and listening to it. Narrators who focus on historical truth see themselves as “archivists,” guarding original records and trying to keep them pristine, while those who focus on narrative truth are “mythmakers,” cre-ating a story “that speaks to the heart as well as the mind” and “seeks to know the truth and generate conviction about the self.”

What is clear in all these cases — whether of imagined or real abuse in childhood, of genuine or experimentally implanted memories, of misled witnesses and brainwashed prisoners, of unconscious plagiarism, and of the false memories we probably all have based on misattribution or source confusion — is that, in the absence of outside confirmation, there is no easy way of distinguishing a genuine memory or inspiration, felt as such, from those that have been borrowed or suggested.


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