Historical Truth and Narrative Truth [...]

Donald Spence, writing in 1982, argues that there are two models of truth, serving two different functions. Author Ruth E. Ray summarizes the difference in her book on nostalgia and story-telling:

 As defined by psychologist Donald Spence, historical truth involves concrete objects and events; a memory is historically true if it can be factually verified. Narrative truth involves the connections between events, which are not verifiable because they are based on values, interpretations, and emotions. A memory has narrative truth when it captures an experience to the satisfaction of those telling and listening to it. Narrators who focus on historical truth see themselves as “archivists,” guarding original records and trying to keep them pristine, while those who focus on narrative truth are “mythmakers,” cre-ating a story “that speaks to the heart as well as the mind” and “seeks to know the truth and generate conviction about the self.”

Oliver Sacks, writing in 2011, notes our inability to distinguish the “real” historical truth from the narrative truth we create:

What is clear in all these cases — whether of imagined or real abuse in childhood, of genuine or experimentally implanted memories, of misled witnesses and brainwashed prisoners, of unconscious plagiarism, and of the false memories we probably all have based on misattribution or source confusion — is that, in the absence of outside confirmation, there is no easy way of distinguishing a genuine memory or inspiration, felt as such, from those that have been borrowed or suggested, between what the psychoanalyst Donald Spence calls ‘historical truth’ and ‘narrative truth.’ [(Source)](http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2013/02/21/speak-memory/)

Other writers and researchers have questioned whether narrative truth truly qualifies as truth. Feminist scholars have often embraced narrative truth as a way to capture marginalized experience.

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