The narrative construction of dyslexic identities in adults
Identity and self are complex and fragmented concepts. There are various theories, but narrative is a useful framework for understanding and investigating them. Narrative theory and social constructionism, which have similar ontological foundations but differ somewhat in other ways, are combined in this thesis to investigate how adults with dyslexia construct their identities. A new concept, ‘storyworld’, is presented and used to demonstrate how the narrative construction of lived time shapes identity construction. \ud The stories adults tell about their lived experience of disability allow a glimpse into the impact of disability on identity and selfhood. Dyslexia, as a specific disability characterised by difficulties with literacy, has the potential to be a moral issue with which sufferers have to contend in everyday life. This study presents findings from narrative life interviews with 14 adults who identify as dyslexic.\ud First, the adults’ discursive constructions of dyslexia are presented. Decisions about disclosure and concealment are important and have impacts on lived-lives and future plans. They bring up identity issues such as change and difference. Change and difference vis-à-vis a label of dyslexia, perceptions of self, thoughts about people’s perceptions and new ways one can deal with difficulties related to dyslexia, were expressed through the participants’ narratives. \ud The life narratives of two women are then presented as case studies, with specific reference to disclosure and their journeys from initial suspicions of dyslexia to current difficulties and identity struggles. The concept of ‘storyworld’ is used to shape the analyses, focusing on how the lived life is framed within the told story and how the participants narratively construct their lives. Finally, the narrative structures, plots and timelines of the participants’ stories are analysed. In terms of identity, the temporal complexity of the stories, exposed through a storyworld analysis, indicates the self-significance of the lived-events that are told.
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