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Novac, A. Tuttle, M.C. Blinder, B.J. (2019). Identity Narrative and Its Role in Biological Survival: Implications for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 18(2):155-184.

(2019). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 18(2):155-184

Identity Narrative and Its Role in Biological Survival: Implications for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

Andrei Novac, M.D., Margaret C. Tuttle, M.D. and Barton J. Blinder, MD, Ph.D.

In this article, we propose the term identity narrative (IdN) to define an implicit emotional and cognitive framework that serves as an unconscious scaffolding for the gradual development of autobiographical memory. We distinguish preverbal IdN from narrative identity, a term previously used in the philosophical literature. Unlike narrative identity, which refers to conscious life scripts, IdN is unconscious and constitutes a contemporary neuropsychological conceptualization of the unconscious. Within autobiographical memory, IdN has a stabilizing function providing individual predictability and, hence, social stability. IdN begins prior to language acquisition and has an evolutionary significance. It is consolidated by neurohormonal mechanisms, influences and is influenced by attachment, and molds the manner in which autobiographical memory is recalled. It participates in the emergence of self and identity. IdN is reshaped throughout life by both bottom-up (implicit “predictive cycle” paradigm) and top-down acquisitions that include paradigm shift/sudden new insights, experiences with high emotional valence, repetition and practicing, and prolonged exposure. In this way, IdN, autobiographical memory, and the language brain are parts of a larger biological substrate of human social affiliations.

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