Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 65–76 | Cite as

From chaos to cosmos: The telling of a life story reconsidered

  • Raili Gothóni


This paper is based on clinical work as a pastoral counsellor with 26 elderly chronic patients at one of the city hospitals in Helsinki. The author discusses how the patients experience chaos and cosmos and how the telling of their life stories encourages them to encounter the crisis. They asked: who am I in the midst of all these (cultural, social and physical) changes? Chaos was experienced as a feeling of alienation from oneself, of being unable to determine one's own living conditions, and of being unable to handle stress situations by the same means as before. The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story, which proved to be a creative process relating and integrating the present with the past, and providing an overview of one's life cycle. The counsellor and the other social contacts willing to listen to and reflect upon the story facilitated the progress considerably as did a positive attitude towards religion and seeking of life satisfaction in spite of everything.

Key Words

elderly people life cycle life story pastoral counselling psychology of religion religiosity crisis 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raili Gothóni
    • 1
  1. 1.Diaconess Institute of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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