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The relationship between affectivity, narrativity, and the self : a phenomenological perspective

In this thesis I explore from a phenomenological perspective the relationship between affectivity and narrativity and its relevance for the understanding of the structure of selfhood. In contemporary phenomenology it is often argued that there are two complementary but distinct forms of selfhood: the “minimal” and “narrative” self. In this context, affectivity is usually associated with pre-reflective forms of bodily and self-experience, thus conceiving of it as a constitutive dimension of minimal selfhood. Some phenomenological accounts, however, also draw attention to the existence of a connection between affectivity and some features of the narrative self. In this work, I extend and refine in various ways the conceptions of affective experience and selfhood defended by these accounts. In the first place, I show how affectivity exerts a cardinal role in the emergence and development of narrativity, thus identifying various dynamics through which minimal self-experience impacts on the structure of narrative understanding. Secondly, I illustrate different ways in which narrativity in turn shapes the structure of affectivity. In so doing I challenge one of the ideas which are central to the distinction between minimal and narrative self, namely that minimal self-experience is impervious to the dynamics which characterise narrative self-understanding. My account indeed shows that emotions are complex phenomena in which minimal and narrative forms of self-awareness are phenomenologically entwined. Finally, I apply these insights to the analysis of depression and borderline personality disorder. I claim that characteristic of depression is the weakening or abandonment of the life stories with which the person identified prior to the illness and the emergence of new narratives which possess specific features and are shaped by feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and a particular temporal and spatial experience. As far as borderline personality disorder is concerned, I argue that the disturbances of narrative selfhood typical of the illness depend on the frequent alternation of existential feelings of shame and anger and I claim that these disturbances in turn shape the bodily experience associated with affectivity and exacerbate emotional dysregulation.
Date January 2015
CreatorsBortolan, Anna
PublisherDurham University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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