Narrative Psychology

Narrative Psych

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Narrative psychology is a burgeoning field of research into the way stories shape lives. During the past ten years, I have published a number of articles and chapters in this field which develop the concept of `narrative partitioning'--the circumstances in which something extraordinary can happen in an individual life.

The conclusion from my latest chapter summarises the basic logic of narrative psychology:

Whether located in consciousness, conversation or wordless action, narrative need not be seen simply as a given modality of sense. As a sphere of life, it requires the boundary construction of gates and fences before it can be read back into normal life. Literary theory operates inside this space occasionally tracking the intervention of real life forces as narrative sub-structure. It's the business of narrative psychology here to take the other side of the fence, monitoring the flow of fiction back into life. A spatialised theory of meaning, for which every inside has an outside, enables us to talk to those over the fence without losing the distinctive project of our inquiry. Since the line of demarcation today is rapidly shifting into new virtual realms, it is a significant challenge for this fledgling school to patrol the new terrain and monitor the changes therein and thereout.

taken from: `Narrative Partitioning: The ins and outs of identity construction' (ed J. Smith, R. Harré, & Luk van Langenhove) Rethinking Psychology: Volume 1 - Conceptual Foundations Sage, 1995 (see online version)

For more information about this area of psychology, see the Virtual Faculty.

Other publications:

  • Justificatory accounts and the meaning of the marathon as a social event (1985) Australian Psychologist 20 (1): 6174
  • Life as fiction (1985) Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 15 (2): 173-188
  • Entertaining the travel story (1986) Melbourne Journal of Politics 18: 28-43
  • Finding literary paths: the work of popular life constructors. (1986) In T.R. Sarbin (ed.) Narrative Psychology: The Storied Nature of Human Conduct. New York: Praeger
  • The tall man reads psychoanalysis and finds romance (1986) Southern Review 20: 4968
  • The construction of identity in the narratives of romance and comedy. (1988) In J.Shotter & K.Gergen (eds.) Texts of Identity London: Sage
  • A life in the world in Australia (1991) Australian Cultural History 10: 25-36
  • The construction of a moral career in medicine. (1992) In R. Young & A. Collins (eds.) Interpreting Career: Hermeneutical Studies of Lives in Context New York: Praeger
  • with D. Epston and M. White, A proposal for re-authoring therapy. (1992) In S. McNamee & K.J. Gergen Therapy as Social Construction London: Sage

If you would like to read any of these references but have trouble finding them, send me your address and I will mail you a copy.

Text is copyright Kevin Murray. For reproduction inquiries, email