Donald E. Polkinghorne; Transformative Narratives: From Victimic to Agentic Life Plots. Am J Occup Ther 1996;50(4):299-305. doi: 10.5014/ajot.50.4.299.
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Basic to occupational engagement is a person’s personal power to author choices. Impairment in functioning moves some clients from an agentic identity of self to a victimic identity. The change in identity causes previously self-directed clients to adopt a passive and acquiescent stance toward their lives. The recovery of occupational functioning includes the restoration of the person’s sense of agency. Recent developments in self theory emphasize the self as a process rather than a substance or thing. Narrative is the discourse mode most able to express identity as a process. Victimic identity is manifest in a self-story in which protagonists have lost power to affect change in their lives; agentic identity is manifest in self-stories of active agency. A study of clients’ rehabilitation by Cochran and Laub found that clients’ change from victimic to agentic identity moves through four phases: incompleteness, positioning, actualizing, and completion.
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