The Drug Addiction Treatment As Biographical Work: The Narrative Construction of a Reconstructed Self.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:35
Location: Seminarraum Geschichte 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Georgios TSIOLIS, University of Crete, Greece
This presentation draws on the analysis of biographical narratives of women undergoing drug rehabilitation in a residential therapeutic community in Greece. Our starting point is that the healing process that takes place in therapeutic community “medication-free" programs has a character of “biographical work”: the individuals undergoing treatment are exercised, through daily practices, in biographical reflection; they are invited to construct a new identity of self, away from substance abuse, by reworking their biography. Through the interpretative reconstruction of the biographical narratives of women undergoing treatment we sought to detect: (a) the narrative and symbolic techniques which are invoked by those women in order to incorporate experiences and images of the (former) self, from which they wish to differentiate themselves, in a coherent self-narration; (b) the arrangement techniques for dealing with the ruptures in their life history, as well as for attaining the symbolic normalization of the chaotic aspects of their life history, so as to ensure a biographical consistency. The analysis indicated that treatment is narratively constructed as a process of “purification”. Purification has been preceded by complete personal disorganization which has been the result of the deterioration process that evolved during the period of drug use. However biographical work is not limited only to the life-period of substance use. It extends over the course of biographical time. It detects biographically crystallized distortions that are the source of suffering and attempts to rearrange them. Treatment, therefore, constitutes a radical reinterpretation of the self, its trajectory over social space, the creation of relations and practices, through reflexive biographical work procedures. The process of biographical work is mediated by the therapeutic discourse of the community. Understanding the treatment process as “biographical work” and detecting the narrative techniques through which it takes place, may contribute to the professional reflection of therapists and professionals.