Multiple Identities and Their Organization

Gary S. Gregg

in Navigating Multiple Identities

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199732074
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933457 | DOI:
Multiple Identities and Their Organization

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This chapter examines historical and current theories of the multiplicity of identity, and in addition to McAdams’ story-structure model and Hermans and Kempen’s dialogical model, it outlines a “structuralist” or “generative” theory. Based on life narratives elicited from young adult Americans and Moroccans, the “generative” model emphasizes the crucial role played by structurally ambiguous key symbols and metaphors in integrating multiple self-representations, and in facilitating shifts between them via figure/ground-like reversals in their meanings and in the affects that the features highlighted as “foreground” elicit. This model resembles Dennet’s (1991) “multiple drafts” theory of consciousness and Schenker’s (1954) and Lehrdahl and Jackendoff’s (1983) “layered” theories of music cognition, and it is hypothesized that self-representation employs cognitive processes and structures that strongly resemble those that organize tonal music. Specifically, it hypothesizes that “octave-like relations” among key symbols serve as the elementary units of self-representation, as they define the scale-like structures within which self-relevant meaning becomes possible.

Keywords: identity; personality; self; narrative; life history; culture; music cognition; metaphor

Chapter.  13067 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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