We Are Our Story

The use of narrative goes back to the earliest days of mankind where the passing down of stories was the only way information could be preserved and is the only access man has to experiences (Johnson, 2014, p. 124). It would stand to reason that over the course of human history, simply using narrative as a medium of communication would evolve in the human psyche into a skill used for to make sense out of relationships just as it has been used to make sense out of life (Winslade and Monk, 2000, p. 3).

Scholars from divergent disciplines have come to a surprising consensus that human identity can be boiled down to narrative (Jaconson, 2014, p. 124). Bruner (1987), a psychologist wrote, “we become the autobiographical narratives by which we ‘tell about’ our lives” (p. 15). Sacks (1998), a neurologist, wrote, “We have, each of us, a life-story, an inner narrative” (p. 110). A story is, at its most basic level, something that happened after something else (Jacobson, 2014, p. 124). All experiences by humans happens on the continuum of time, meaning every human experience happens after something else and leads to something else, the parameters of a story (Jacobson, 2014, p. 124). This is called narrative perception, or the organization of experience in story form to make sense out of life and relationships (Winslafe and Monk, 2000, p. 3).

God’s word is the ultimate story, connecting mankind with larger realities connected to God (Jacobson, 2014, p. 127). Though individuals define themselves through their own experiences, through the use of God’s word, individuals define themselves through the stories of others (Schank, 1991, p. 218). The evolutionary growth of the use of narrative will continue simply because it is a part of who mankind is.

References

Bruner, J. (1987). Life as Narrative. Social Research, vol. 54(iss. 1), pp. 11–32.

Jacobson, R. (2014). We are our stories: narrative dimension of human identity and its implications for Christian faith formation. Word & World, 34(2), 123–130.

Sacks, O. (1998). The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Schank, R. C. (1991). Tell Me a Story: A New Look at Real and Artificial Memory (First Edition edition). New York: Atheneum.

Winslade, J., & Monk, G. D. (2000). Narrative Mediation : A New Approach to Conflict Resolution (1 edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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