Stories of recovery : the role of narrative and hope in overcoming PTSD and PD

Hanna Pickard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


I explore the role of narrative understanding in recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and personality disorder (PD), and explain why self-autonomy and self-creation, as components of narrative understanding, are central to the recovery process. Drawing on a hypothetical clinical vignette, I show how narrative understanding can impede recovery if it is not harnessed to a patient’s sense of agency for change and hope for the future. I suggest that this risk can be averted by focusing on how narrative is a form of understanding that can surprise us and defy expectations, allowing us to free ourselves from our pasts and treat our futures as open. I conclude by reflecting on the difficult balance that clinicians must strike in supporting patients to develop narratives that genuinely promote recovery: they must hold hope for their patients, yet temper their hope with realism about the genuine constraints and hardships their patients face.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Psychiatric Ethics
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • agency
  • freedom
  • hope
  • narrative
  • personality disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • recovery


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