Narrating Truths Worth Living: Addiction Narratives

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Self-narrative is often, perhaps primarily, a tool of self- constitution, not of truth representation. We explore this theme with reference to our own recent qualitative interviews of substance-dependent agents. Narrative self- constitution, the process of realizing a valued narrative projection of oneself, depends on one’s narrative tracking truth to a certain extent. Therefore, insofar as narratives are successfully realized, they have a claim to being true, although a certain amount of self-deception typically comes along for the ride. We suggest that, because agents typically value certain outcomes more highly than truth for truth’s sake, it makes sense to narrate in ways that aren’t strictly true if that helps ensure highly valued outcomes do come true. Walker (2012) outlines three ways of defending the truth of past-directed narratives, but the role of future-directed narratives in realizing highly valued truths provides her a fourth way.
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