Writing Lived Experience – A Melancholy Elegy

  • Ying Liu De Montfort University / The University of Edinburgh

Abstract


This paper explores the limitations of language in psychotherapeutic writing about lived experience and how psychanalytic concepts can help us both understand and work through the inevitable loss that results from these limitations. It is illustrated by the author’s experience of undertaking a doctoral research project in psychotherapy where the experience of narrative incoherence was explored through writing. Paralleled to the doctoral research project was the author’s challenges in writing the experience of incoherence. By reflecting on and analysing these challenges, this paper explores the sense of loss that is located at the core of writing lived experience through psychoanalytic concepts including the third position and melancholia. The limitations of language in capturing the fullness of lived experienced is shed light on. Connecting the psychoanalytic concept of melancholia to Romanyshyn’s (2013) writing as elegy, I propose writing lived experience as a melancholy elegy in which what is lost in language can be acknowledged and kept alive in the writer’s psyche. I argue for the creative potential brought by the continuous engagement with the sense of loss in writing lived experience.

 

Reference:

Romanyshyn, R.D. (2013). The wounded researcher: research with soul in mind. New Orleans, Louisiana: Spring Journal Books.

References

Adler, J. M. (2012). Living into the story: agency and coherence in a longitudinal study of narrative identity development and mental health over the course of psychotherapy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 367-389.
Angus, L. E., & McLeod, J. (2004). Self-multiplicity and narrative expression in psychotherapy. In H. J. M. Hermans & G. Dimaggio (Eds.), The dialogical self in psychotherapy (pp. 77-90). New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.
Andrews, M. (2010). Beyond narrative: the shape of traumatic testimony. In M. Hyvärinen, L. Hydén, M. Saarenheimo & M. Tamboukou (Eds.), Beyond narrative coherence (pp. 147-166). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins B.V.
Baerger, D. R., & McAdams, D. P. (1999). Life story coherence and its relation to psychological well-being. Narrative Inquiry, 9, 69-96.
Burton, R. (2001). The anatomy of melancholy. New York, NY: New York Review Books.
Brady, E., & Haapala, A. (2003). Melancholy as an aesthetic emotion. Contemporary Aesthetics. Advance online publication. Retrieved from https://contempaesthetics.org/newvolume/pages/article.php?articleID=214#FN1
Balfour, A. (2005). The couple, their marriage, and Oedipus: or, problems come in twos and threes. In F. Grier (Ed.), Oedipus and the couple (pp. 49-71). London, UK: Karnac.
Britton, R. (1993). The missing link: parental sexuality in the Oedipus complex. In D. Breen (Ed.), The gender conundrum: contemporary psychoanalytic perspectives on masculinity and femininity (pp. 83-96). London, UK: Routledge.
Britton, R. (2004). Subjectivity, objectivity, and triangular space. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 73, 47-61.
Butler, J. (2005). Giving an account of oneself. New York, NY: Fordham University Press.
Bondi, L. (2013). Research and therapy: generating meaning and feeling gaps. Qualitative Inquiry, 19, 9-19.
Colman, W. (2007). Symbolic conceptions: the idea of the third. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 52, 565-583.
Eliot, T. S. (1944). Four quartets. London, UK: Faber and Faber Limited.
Eng, D. L., & Han, S. (2000). A dialogue on racial melancholia. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 10, 667-700.
Eng, D. L., & Kazanjian, D. (2003). Introduction: mourning remains. In D. L. Eng & D. Kazanjian (Eds.), Loss: the politics of mourning (pp. 1-25). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Freud, S. (2005). On murder, mourning and melancholia. London, UK: Penguin.
Frank, A. W. (2010). Letting stories breathe: a socio-narratology. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Hope, A. D. (1971). A midsummer eve's dream: variations on a theme by William Dunbar. Edinburgh, UK: Oliver and Boyd.
Josselson, R. (1996) On writing other people’s lives: self-analytic reflection of a narrative researcher. In R. Josselson (Ed), Ethics and process in the narrative study of lives. London, UK: Sage.
Kristeva, J. (1987). Black sun: depression and melancholia. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Kempler, N. Z. (2003). Finding our voice through poetry and psychotherapy. Journal of Poetry Therapy, 16, 217-220.
Lanman, M. (2005). The painful truth. In F. Grier (Ed.), Oedipus and the couple (pp. 141-162). London, UK: Karnac Books.
Leader, D. (2009). The new black: mourning, melancholia and depression. London, UK: Penguin Books.
Lieblich, A. (2013). Healing plots: writing and reading in life-stories groups. Qualitative Inquiry, 19, 46-52.
Liu, Y. (2019) Sky seen through trees: rethinking narrative coherence in counselling and psychotherapy. Doctoral dissertation. University of Edinburgh, UK. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1842/36146
Mink, L. O. (1987). Historical understanding. London, UK: Cornell University Press.
Mattingly, C. (1998). Healing dramas and clinical plots: the narrative structure of experience. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Pelias, R. J. (2004). A methodology of the heart: evoking academic and daily life. Walnut Creek, LA: AltaMira Press.
Pelias, R., J. (2011). Writing into position – strategies for composition and evaluation. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research, 4th edition (pp. 659-668). London, UK: Sage.
Prendergast, M. (2009). “Poem is what?” Poetic inquiry in qualitative social science research. International Review of Qualitative Research, 1, 541–568.
Richardson, L. (1997) Fields of play: constructing an academic life. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Richardson, L. (2000). Writing, a method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln, (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research, 2nd edition (pp. 923-948). London, UK: Sage.
Richardson, L., & St. Pierre, E. (2005). Writing: a method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research, 3rd edition (pp. 959-978). London, UK: Sage
Ruti, M. (2005). From melancholia to meaning how to live the past in the present. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 15, 637-660.
Romanyshyn, R. D. (2013). The wounded researcher: research with soul in mind. New Orleans, LA: Spring Journal Books.
Stierlin, H. (1963). Existentialism meets psychotherapy. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 24, 215.
Samuels, A., Shorter, B., & Plaut, F. (1986). A critical dictionary of Jungian analysis. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Speedy, J. (2015) Staring at the park: a poetic autoethnographic inquiry. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
Stillwaggon, J. (2017). “A fantasy of untouchable fullness”: melancholia and resistance to educational transformation. Educational Theory, 67, 51-66.
Tamas, S. (2008). Writing and righting trauma: troubling the autoethnographic voice. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10. Advance online publication. Retrieved from http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1211
Winnicott, D. W. (1960). The theory of the parent-infant relationship. The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 41, 585-595.
Published
14-May-2020
How to Cite
Liu, Y. (2020). Writing Lived Experience – A Melancholy Elegy. Language and Psychoanalysis, 9(1), 1-13. https://doi.org/10.7565/landp.v9i1.1704