The turn to narrative as a form of therapy has become a common practice with individuals telling their stories in private and public forums in hopes of finding healing and recovery for a wide variety of mental health disorders. With the emergence of the internet and the proliferation of new media forms, narrative practices have evolved concurrently. An examination of the digitally mediated narratives I call e-stories, on mental health community websites can provide a window into how people use psychological concepts in narratives to do mental health work in everyday life (Edwards & Potter, 1992). This case study of the HealthyPlace online journal community shows how e-stories play a significant role in self-identity construction and ideological reproductive work in relation to mental illness and recovery. This research examines autobiographical introductions posted on twenty-eight journal homepages to explore how everyday people use psychotherapeutic coherence systems - lay versions of expert knowledge - to demonstrate expertise and authority while organizing experiences into a socially sharable narrative, characterizing self-identity in terms of illness and health simultaneously. These e-stories reveal the power of language to serve as a tool to negotiate community membership, reproduce ideologies about mental health and recovery, and employ narrative devices online to represent self-identities of people as "screwed up, but working on it."
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/riki_thompson/1/