Narrative self-appropriation: embodiment, alienness, and personal responsibility in the context of borderline personality disorder
- 421 Downloads
It is often emphasised that persons diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) show difficulties in understanding their own psychological states. In this article, I argue that from a phenomenological perspective, BPD can be understood as an existential modality in which the embodied self is profoundly saturated by an alienness regarding the person’s own affects and responses. However, the balance of familiarity and alienness is not static, but can be cultivated through, e.g., psychotherapy. Following this line of thought, I present the idea that narrativising experiences can play an important role in processes of appropriating such embodied self-alienness. Importantly, the notion of narrative used is that of a scalar conception of narrativity as a variable quality of experience that comes in degrees. From this perspective, narrative appropriation is a process of gradually attributing the quality of narrativity to experiences, thereby familiarising the moods, affects, and responses that otherwise govern ‘from behind’. Finally, I propose that the idea of a narrative appropriation of embodied self-alienness is also relevant to the much-debated question of personal responsibility in BPD, particularly as this question plays out in psychotherapeutic contexts where a narrative self-appropriation may facilitate an increase in sense of autonomy and reduce emotions of guilt and shame.
KeywordsBorderline Personality Disorder Phenomenology Narrative Embodiment Alienness
This research was supported by the Danish Counsel of Independent Research (DFF). My thanks to Samuel Thoma, Ditte Winther-Lindqvist, Thomas Schwarts-Wentzer, and the members of Research Group for Philosophical Hermeneutics at Aarhus University for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares to have no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author.
- 2.Phillips, James. 2003. Schizophrenia and the narrative self. In The self in neuroscience and psychiatry, ed. Tilo Kircher and Anthony David, 319–335. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- 4.Hamkins, SuEllen. 2013. The art of narrative psychiatry: Stories of strength and meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- 5.Lewis, Bradley. 2011. Narrative psychiatry: How stories can shape clinical encounters. Baltimore: John’s Hopkins Press.Google Scholar
- 8.Blattner, William D. 2000. Life is not literature. In The many faces of time, ed. John B. Brough and Lester Embree, 187–201. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
- 10.Menary, Richard. 2008. Embodied narratives. Journal of Consciousness Studies 15(6): 63–84.Google Scholar
- 11.Thomä, Dieter. 2007. Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Erzählung für das Leben. In Narrative Ethik: Das Gute und das Böse erzählen, ed. Karen Joisten, 75–95. Berlin: Akadamie Verlag.Google Scholar
- 14.Shehrina. 2016. Living with personality disorder. Recovery Mum. http://recoverymum.com/mental-health/living-with-borderline-personality-disorder/. Accessed July 31 2017.
- 15.Dyhr, Karin. 2011. Bag om borderline. Denmark: Nyt Nordisk Forlag Arnold Busck.Google Scholar
- 16.Husserl, Edmund. 1952. Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Zweites buch. Phänomenologische Untersuchungen zur Konstitution. Husserliana. Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
- 17.Plessner, Helmuth. 1976. Die Frage nach der Conditio humana: Aufsätze zur philosophischen Anthropologie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
- 18.Zaner, Richard M. 1981. The context of self: A phenomenological inquiry using medicine as a clue. Athens: Ohio University Press.Google Scholar
- 20.Waldenfels, Bernhard. 1997. Topographie des Fremden. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
- 21.Waldenfels, Bernhard. 2015. Sozialität und Alterität: Modi sozialer Erfahrung. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp Verlag.Google Scholar
- 22.Waldenfels, Bernhard. 2000. Das leibliche Selbst. Vorlesungen zur Phanomenologie des Leibes. Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
- 23.Küchenhoff, Joachim. 2014. Die Phänomenologie des Fremden. In Das Leidende Subject. Phänomenologie als Wissenschaft der Psyche, ed. Thomas Fuchs, Breyer Thiemo, Stefano Micali, and Boris Wandruszka, 104–120. München: Verlag Karl Alber.Google Scholar
- 24.Heidegger, Martin. 2001. Zollikon seminars: Protocols, conversations, letters. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
- 25.van der Kolk, Bessel. 2014. The body keeps the score. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
- 26.Herman, Judith Lewis. 1997. Trauma and recovery. New York: Basic books.Google Scholar
- 27.Crawford, Allison. 2010. If ‘The Body Keeps the Score’: Mapping the dissociated body in trauma narrative, intervention, and theory. University of Toronto Quarterly 79(2): 702–719.Google Scholar
- 29.Leys, Ruth. 2010. Trauma: A genealogy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- 30.Monti, M.R. 2016. The window and the wound: Dysphoria and anger in borderline disorder. In An experiential approach to psychopathology: What it is like to suffer from mental disorder, ed. Giovanni Stanghellini and Aragona Massimiliano. Switzerland: Springer.Google Scholar
- 31.Waldenfels, Bernhard. 2011. Phenomenology of the alien. Trans. Alexander Kozin and Tanja Stähler. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
- 33.Abbott, H. Porter. 2011. Narrativity. In The living handbook of narratology, ed. Peter Hühn et al., Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. http://www.lhn.uni-hamburg.de/. Accessed July 31 2017.
- 39.White, Michael. 2007. Maps of narrative practice. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
- 40.White, Michael, and David Epston. 1990. Narrative means to therapeutic ends. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
- 44.Raffoul, François. 2010. The origins of responsibility. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
- 45.Waldenfels, Bernhard. 2012. Responsive ethics. In The Oxford handbook of contemporary phenomenology, ed. Dan Zahavi, 423–441. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- 46.Køster, Allan. Forthcoming. Personal history, beyond narrative: An embodied perspective. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology.Google Scholar
- 47.Køster, Allan, and Ditte Winther-Lindqvist. Forthcoming. Personal history and historical selfhood—The embodied and pre-reflective dimension. In Cambridge handbook of sociocultural psychology, ed. Jaan Valsiner and Alberto Rosa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- 51.Fuchs, Thomas. 2015. Schizophrenia, embodiment and intersubjectivity. In Towards a new philosophy of mental health: Perspectives from neuroscience and the humanities, ed. Drozdstoy St. Stoyanov. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar