Repetition Is the Scent of the Hunt: A Clinician’s Application of Narrative Identity to a Longitudinal Life Study


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Abstract

As part of a special section on stability and continuity in personality, this analysis explores the role of repetition in life story interviews of a middle-aged White male named Dennis over a 5-year period. Using a framework of narrative identity, repetition is identified and analyzed through three units of study—his life story narrative, self-defining memories, and narrative scripts. These components of narrative identity converge to provide the portrait of an individual who struggles with his sense of agency and control in his life, often feeling he lives under a cloud of “bad karma.” Despite this adversity, he presents a recurring script of his redemptive triumph over the “negative fates” he perceives. Although this repetitive formulation provides a stable sense of identity, it also imposes a rigidity in outlook. The last section of this case study examines how clinical treatment might address this rigidity.

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