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A Poststructural Autoethnography: Self as event

This thesis takes the form of a poststructural autoethnography. It explores self as event in order to illustrate the fluid nature of self identities, and is informed by the writings of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. In tandem with these theorists, I turn to the work of Michael White, narrative therapist, in my use of his Migration of Identity map (White, 1995) and the eight-point conversational map he developed to address personal failure (White, 2002). The launching points for my research were selected stories that significantly shaped my life, specifically two storylines of how I became mired in problem stories of blame and failure that lead to exhaustion and burnout. Taking a poststructural narrative therapeutic perspective has opened up space to bring forward subordinate, alternative stories that were previously overpowered by problem stories. In the process of troubling the discourses, and sedimented practices of those events and their subsequent effects, I have had opportunity to open up the possibility of transformation – taking off in lines of flight. Through plugging in to Deleuzo-Guattarian concepts, I also explore a professional relationship I had with my plastic surgeon across the decomposition and re-composition of facial identity. Drawing on the work of Deleuze and Guattari (1987) made transformation possible, a freeing up of the constraining lines of force, movement that takes the research subject (my self) into different territory of being. The research became an opportunity to explore a migration of identity and to act to open the possibility for conceiving of self as fluid, a work in progress, self as a work of art. Writing plays an important part in this research and in bringing the self into existence. To this end, the thesis charts the course of a journey of compassionately witnessing self, and in the process, both reveals and troubles the positions offered and refused by the subject. Finally, this autoethnography is a journey towards ethical reflexive practice as it connects me to my desire to do the right thing – to become an ethical counselling practitioner, and to highlight the movement of becoming. I understand this reflexivity to be a continual process that makes possible a questioning of practice that explores effects of the work I do, how it contributes to others’ lives, and how others contribute to my life. I explore the process of becoming different through this witnessing of self, and, in the process, discover how this makes a compassionate witnessing of other possible. Witnessing of other brings me closer to doing hope in community, while, at the same time, scales it down to make it do-able, reasonable hope. This heightened awareness makes possible the witnessing of sparkling moments in therapeutic conversations and makes visible the possible in the impossible, and the impossible in the possible.
Type of thesis
Moneypenny, P. D. (2013). A Poststructural Autoethnography: Self as event (Thesis, Master of Counselling (MCouns)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/7925
University of Waikato
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