Title

Not the same me: An exploration of personal transformation

Start Time

6-10-2012 2:00 PM

End Time

6-10-2012 2:30 PM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

Developmental theories can provide insight and context for understanding the phases, stages or transitions which arise along the journey through adulthood. The language of transformation may be included as a qualifier to denote a significant change or transitional process along this journey; however transformation itself as a dimension of development and more importantly as a representation of experience is not widely theorized. This theoretical paper situates transformation at the intersection of development, identity, experience and narrative which in turn directs future studies of occupational engagement and the phenomenological exploration of experience. It will highlight the complexity of the process by which an individual transforms from one way of being in life to another. The language of this paper appropriates that of metaphorical and literal travel in representing the transformational journey, inclusive of space, place and temporal dimensions. ‘You can never go home again.’ ‘You cannot step in the same river twice as you and the river are no longer the same.’ ‘Life is a highway.’ ‘I am not me, at least not the same me that I was.’ Even the metamorphosis of the butterfly emerging from the darkness of the cocoon can be translated into the human experience of ‘coming into the light’ or ‘coming into one’s self.’ Anthropological renderings of transformational journeys are often represented through illness or spiritual narratives and conceptual genres which are retrospectively constructed. Occupational science has descriptively portrayed the potentiality of occupation as a tool by which personal and social transformation may arise. What about those transformations which emerge through everyday practices and occupations, occurring as we travel through our daily sociocultural worlds? Such journeys may not always be marked by a catalytic event rather may emerge from a ‘moment of significance.’ Understanding what constitutes or contributes to the emergence of a transformational experience creates the foundation by which the sustainability and translation of such change into daily life can be explored. This paper will thus examine how occupational lifestyle is re-organized, occupational identity is altered and intersubjective relationship with the social world is narrated in response to a transformative journey. The contribution of such inquiry further deepens the recognition of the complex interplay and intersubjective relationship between self and occupation participation.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Transformations and narratives stemming from illness experiences are well documented in the literature. What theoretical frames support broadening the transformative experience existent in daily occupational life?
  2. How is transformation subsequently re-organized and re-structured into the occupational identity?
  3. What contextual factors contribute to the sustainability of transformation?

References

Elder, G. (1998). The life course as developmental theory. Child Development, 69, 1-12.

Freeman, M. (2010). The space of selfhood: Culture narrative, identity. In S.R. Kirschner & J. Martin (Eds.). The sociocultural turn in psychology: The contextual emergence of mind and self. (pp. 137-158). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Mattingly, C. (2010). Paradox of hope. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Stein, M. (1998). Transformation: Emergence of the self. College Station, TX: Texas A & M University Press.

Watson, R. & Swartz, L. (Eds.). (2004). Transformation through occupation. London, UK: Whurr Publishers.

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Theoretical paper

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Oct 6th, 2:00 PM Oct 6th, 2:30 PM

Not the same me: An exploration of personal transformation

Developmental theories can provide insight and context for understanding the phases, stages or transitions which arise along the journey through adulthood. The language of transformation may be included as a qualifier to denote a significant change or transitional process along this journey; however transformation itself as a dimension of development and more importantly as a representation of experience is not widely theorized. This theoretical paper situates transformation at the intersection of development, identity, experience and narrative which in turn directs future studies of occupational engagement and the phenomenological exploration of experience. It will highlight the complexity of the process by which an individual transforms from one way of being in life to another. The language of this paper appropriates that of metaphorical and literal travel in representing the transformational journey, inclusive of space, place and temporal dimensions. ‘You can never go home again.’ ‘You cannot step in the same river twice as you and the river are no longer the same.’ ‘Life is a highway.’ ‘I am not me, at least not the same me that I was.’ Even the metamorphosis of the butterfly emerging from the darkness of the cocoon can be translated into the human experience of ‘coming into the light’ or ‘coming into one’s self.’ Anthropological renderings of transformational journeys are often represented through illness or spiritual narratives and conceptual genres which are retrospectively constructed. Occupational science has descriptively portrayed the potentiality of occupation as a tool by which personal and social transformation may arise. What about those transformations which emerge through everyday practices and occupations, occurring as we travel through our daily sociocultural worlds? Such journeys may not always be marked by a catalytic event rather may emerge from a ‘moment of significance.’ Understanding what constitutes or contributes to the emergence of a transformational experience creates the foundation by which the sustainability and translation of such change into daily life can be explored. This paper will thus examine how occupational lifestyle is re-organized, occupational identity is altered and intersubjective relationship with the social world is narrated in response to a transformative journey. The contribution of such inquiry further deepens the recognition of the complex interplay and intersubjective relationship between self and occupation participation.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Transformations and narratives stemming from illness experiences are well documented in the literature. What theoretical frames support broadening the transformative experience existent in daily occupational life?
  2. How is transformation subsequently re-organized and re-structured into the occupational identity?
  3. What contextual factors contribute to the sustainability of transformation?