Dissertation Title:

Memoir: The Experience of Writing Memoir


Shannon Sharee Calder

Date, Time & Place:

June 29, 2023 at 10:00 am


Research has shown that writing personal stories or memoir has psychological impact on the individual author and may guide them on a path to healing through the process of crafting and reimagining their story. This study used Clark Moustakas’s qualitative heuristic methodology to analyze the co-researcher’s experiential data that was gathered through interview, the study of their individual memoirs, and personal materials offered. Individual depictions of the memoir-writing experience, a comprehensive depiction, and a creative synthesis of the experience of writing memoir were created. The results of this study revealed three themes: making sense of internal experience; relief, community, and helping; and the experience of mentorship. Memoir writers currently experience psychological changes during and after completing their manuscript. They reveal using their writing to identify their own conclusions and feelings about events in their lives that prove difficult to understand. They experience seeking out community and validation for those feelings in the form of writing communities, teachers, and mentors, and they often develop whole communities so they may share their own personal stories, writings, and psychological changes as mentors. This research had a small sample size and did not have the breadth and width of cultural diversity that a larger research study would serve. Clinical study with different gender identity, age, and racial and ethnic identifications would serve to expand knowledge into how memoir writing reimagines and serves psychological healing.

  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology with Emphasis in Depth Psychology, A, 2018
  • Chair: Dr. Elizabeth Nelson
  • Reader: Dr. Christine Lewis
  • External Reader: Dr. Jane Bacon
  • Keywords: Memoir, Writing, Writer, Heuristic, Moustakas, Story