Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

What if you are wrong? Narratives of personal myths in times of transition
by Patrick, Eva, Psy.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2016, 315; 10248519
Abstract (Summary)

The understanding of one’s personal myth—the story one tells oneself about one’s skills, shortcomings, social possibilities and employment potential—has been shown to contribute to one’s well-being and to enrich personal growth (Angus & Greenberg, 2011a; Friedlander, Lee & Bernardi, 2013; Josselson, 2009; Maruna & Ramsden, 2004). Since transitional periods involve an experience of uncertainty about the present and future (Larsen, 1990; McAdams, 1993), they could also provide prime opportunities for a conscious examination of potentially unconscious personal myths that have been created in the past and that may no longer tell an accurate story about who a person is in the present (Feinstein & Krippner, 1988a; Krippner & Feinstein, 2006; Stewart, Sokol, Healy, Chester, & Weinstock-Savoy, 1982). Since research shows that unconscious personal myths can be limiting to one’s possibilities in the world (Feinstein, 1997; Feinstein & Krippner, 1988a; McAdams, 1993; Neimeyer, 1995), this project examined ways in which people become more cognizant of their personal myths, as well as their thought process around the reauthoring or retelling of a new narrative that fits more accurately to their current circumstances in life.

This research used the qualitative method of narrative inquiry to elicit narratives of people in times of transitions and at turning points, as well as the ways that they experience and tell their personal myths. Specifically, the study examined whether and how people’s personal myths are affected in times of transition or at turning points. Five participants were interviewed in two stages: a 60–90 minute in-depth semistructured interview and a 30–60 minute follow-up interview, where participants were given time to share their impressions from the transcripts of their first interview, and to share artifacts such as pictures and journal entries from different transitional periods.

The study explored the relationship between turning points and personal myths, i.e., the ways in which turning points have created changes in participants’ personal myths. The following themes emerged from this study: Change, Choice of New Action, Contentment Versus Ambition and Action, Pass It Forward, Reflection Back on the Journey, Social Context, Turning Points, Uncertainty, Self-Improvement and Desire for More, Money, and Being in the Moment.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Tong, Benjamin R.
Commitee: Morgan, Robert F.
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 78/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology, Spirituality
Keywords: Narrative, Personal myth, Self myth, Story, Transitions, Turning points
Publication Number: 10248519
ISBN: 978-1-369-45624-0
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