Narrative integration of identity following trauma Life-stories of immigrants granted asylum in Australia following prolonged detention
Drawing on narrative theories of personality this study proposed a model of narrative integration to explain how traumatic experiences are incorporated within the self-construct. A qualitative design was employed, using semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis of interview data. The sample included former asylum-seekers now living in Australia after spending two years or more in mandatory detention centers. Ten males aged between 19 and 51 recalled their experiences of mandatory detention within the context of their lives. Findings supported the use of the proposed model of narrative integration for understanding trauma associated with mandatory detention. Thematic analysis revealed disturbances to people’s narratives as a result of detention, with attempts to adapt to narrative disturbance adhering to constructs outlined in the model. Three groups representing different levels of narrative integration were identified using the model, including: robust integration, limited integration, and fragmentation. This study extended the narrative approach by offering a conceptual framework for assessing narrative integration following a traumatic event. Findings suggest scope for further research applying the model of narrative integration to other trauma populations, and exploring the utility of the model in a therapeutic context.
Keywords: narrative, detention, trauma, identity, integration, life-stories, immigration
Published online: 20 December 2016
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