Journalist John Harris examines the potency of narrative, both in the stories that define us as individuals and in those that shape our understanding of the public domain.
The journalist John Harris examines the potency of narrative, both in the stories that define us as individuals and in those that shape our understanding of the public domain.
Story is ubiquitous - and not simply in the realm of literature and entertainment. From television and advertising to religion, science, business and politics, narratives shape our world. They make connections, explain cause and effect and infer meaning. More than that - stories bewitch us. And recent political events have demonstrated quite how potent they can be.
In this episode, John reflects on how our understanding of ourselves - and the idea of the self - is shaped by story. He hears from people who are compelled to convey persuasive stories of their lives, for example at the Job Centre, as well as researcher Lynne Friedli who challenges the heroic qualities required by such accounts. John also talks to a therapist who works with narrative Suzanne Elliot, behavioural psychologist Nick Chater who believes we are all brilliant re-inventers of ourselves from one minute to the next, and philosopher Galen Strawson who challenges whether we actually do - or even should - think of ourselves in terms of narrative.
Presented by John Harris
Produced by Nina Garthwaite and Alan Hall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.