Identity and Autobiographical Narratives Towards an Integrated Concept of Personal History in Psychiatry
A converging, multidisciplinary literature on the significance of autobiography, personal history and the self in
psychiatry and neuroscience has emerged. With the growing emphasis on “individualized medicine,” the authors are
making a case for the in-depth study of personal narratives and individual scripts, as research subjects of interest, towards an “individualized” psychiatric treatment approach. The authors are proposing the term Identity Narrative (IdN) to define an emotional and cognitive framework that serves as an implicit memory scaffolding for the gradual development of complex autobiographical narratives. Along with the autobiographical narrative, IdN constitutes autobiographical memory, which continues to mold itself throughout life and defines an individual’s identity and the self. A person’s IdN is built of implicit scripts and key points which draw content from external narratives (human history) and personal experiences. IdN parallels lifelong growth and development; it is of special
importance in psychological treatment and healing; and it is embedded in a larger biological substrate of social affiliations. The authors propose the “implicit re-routing hypothesis of IdN” by which life events of: (a) sudden insight and awareness; (b) high emotional valence and (c) high frequency of repetition; (d) prolonged duration are likely to become re-routed into a person’s implicit memory and thus become part of the IdN.Clinical implications are discussed.