Moments of Meaning: Identifying Inner Voices in the Autobiographical Texts of ‘Mark’

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This case study presents a method of identifying inner voices, a method based on thematic narrative analysis of client autobiographical texts. The study adopts a narrative psychology view of the self as self-narrative, but also enriches it with aspects of dialogical self-theory; the self-narrative is seen as comprising many parts, I-positions, or inner voices that participate in an ongoing inner and outer dialogue. Analyzed are a variety of texts written by ‘Mark,’ a 67-year-old client facing deterioration of his chronic illness. The texts were written at the start of a systemic-and-narrative-informed long-term therapy and were generated based on instructions that placed the self in various safe positions in time and space. A thematic narrative analysis revealed at least 2 dominant and 2 silenced voices. As a way of enhancing validity, the analysis was extended to include a self-description written by the client at the end of his long term therapy; there, previously identified silenced voices participated in inner dialogue, and a new reflexive voice made its appearance as the result of a therapy. It is argued that the inner voice identification method offers a useful tool for both research and therapy.

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