Seeing One's Self: Locating Narrative Memory in a Framework of Personality


  • The author would like to thank Robert Emmons, Dan McAdams, and Gary Greenberg for their helpful comments on this article.

Jefferson A. Singer, Department of Psychology, Connecticut College, New London, CT 06320.


ABSTRACT Individuals confront the continuing challenge of attending to the competing demands of internal and external stimuli. The emerging I-Self applies three principles of evaluation, categorization, and subsidiation to organize these informational demands. These principles guide the development of the five systems of personality—cognition, affect, motivation, behavior, and psychophysiology. These systems interact to create various Me-Selves that comprise the different roles and contexts of the personality. Each Me-Self contains evaluations (valenced responses to self and others), categories (self- and other representations), and sequences in time (the self and others in past, present, and future). Narrative is the perceptual expression of a particular Me-Self in consciousness. Narrative memory allows for meaningful analysis by consciousness of specific Me-Selves and the cognitions, affects, and goals associated with those selves. Applications of this position to research and psychotherapy are discussed.