We thank Willem van Gilst for his statistical advice, and Lee Ann Weeks for her detailed editorial comments.
Imaginal Dialogues in the Self:Theory and Method
Article first published online: 28 APR 2006
Journal of Personality
Volume 61, Issue 2, pages 207–236, June 1993
How to Cite
Hermans, H. J. M., Rijks, T. I. and Kempen, H. J. G. (1993), Imaginal Dialogues in the Self:Theory and Method. Journal of Personality, 61: 207–236. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1993.tb01032.x
- Issue published online: 28 APR 2006
- Article first published online: 28 APR 2006
- Manuscript received November 2, 1990; revised December 12, 1991.
ABSTRACT The story a person tells about his or her life is viewed as a polyphonic novel. This metaphor implies that the self is multivoiced; that is, there is no single “I” as an agent of self-organization but several, relatively independent “I” positions that complement and contradict each other in dialogical relationships. From this perspective the role ofimaginal figures in the organization of the self is analyzed. A theory and method are presented allowing us to study both the content and the organization of multivoiced self-narratives. The method is illustrated with two idiographic studies, where people tell their life story not only from the perspective of the familiar “I” but also from the perspective of an imaginal figure with whom they have had a long-lasting relationship. Finally, it is argued that the metaphor of a polyphonic novel is particularly useful because it allows us to decentralize the Western concept of the self.