Modes of Narrative Integration of Experiences of Contingency in Highly Sensitive Children: A Qualitative Pilot Study

Yvonne Weeseman, Hanneke van Laarhoven, Michael Scherer-Rath

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Narrative integration of experiences of contingency describes the ways (modes) in which people assimilate the uncontrollability-or contingency-of life, while accepting, acknowledging and tolerating the existential fears accompanying these experiences, thus keeping contingency open. Contingency is defined as events being 'possible (or not impossible) and also not necessary at the same time'. Experiences of contingency, caused by the interplay between life events, one's worldview and ultimate life goals, disrupt one's life story, challenging one's basic needs for understanding, coherence and meaning. The different modes of narrative integration are studied in six highly sensitive Dutch children, aged between 6 and 12 years old. A practice-based model by Kruizinga et al. (2017) is compared to a theoretical construct of religious philosophical contingency constructed by Wuchterl (2011; 2019). Practical and theoretical differences are discussed. This study confirms the findings by Kruizinga et al. (2017). Four modes of dealing with contingency are identified: Denial, Acknowledging, Accepting and Receiving. In mode four, Receiving, people transcend themselves (self-transcendence). Contrary to Wuchterl's theory, vertical transcendence is not a prerequisite for narrative integration of contingency, or for keeping contingency open. We conclude that the model of narrative integration of experiences of contingency by Kruizinga et al. is a valid tool for further research. Possible applications in the field of spiritual care are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-231
JournalJournal of Empirical Theology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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