Understanding Veterans Through the Lens of Dialogical Psychology and Theology

Author/s:

DOI: 10.12738/spc.2018.3.2.0035 

Year: 2018 Vol: 3 Number: 2

Abstract

A dialogical self theory framework has shown to be a promising methodology in the pursuit of mapping and gridding the psychological topography among military personnel during transition from military to civilian life and thereby advance the understandings of self-identity work in the process. This article demonstrates this methodology through a case study example drawn from a longitudinal research project that followed nineteen Swedish service members with annual interviews over a three-year period as they transitioned to civilian life. This case study example evolves into a discussion about a potential vulnerability that may be inherit among service members with distinct religious/spiritual/ethical positions in the self when or if those I-positions perceive themselves to be violated as a result of military service. The implication of such violations or transgressions may result in a type of spiritual injury that disconnects the spiritual capacity of the self to varying degrees. It is proposed that such spiritual injury is typically followed by monologue instead of dialogue. Theological concepts of forgiveness and acceptance may gradually restore the dialogical capacity between a violated position(s) and a traumatized military position within the self. Acceptance and dialogical evolution may then begin to heal the spiritual damage.

Keywords
Dialogical self, military to civilian life, self-identity work, spiritual injury

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