Oral History :: Impact of Emotional Status

Impact of Emotional Status

Hamid Qazvini
Translated by Natalie Haghveridian


Purposeful conversations about past events and their excavation from the narrator's mind is effective in mitigating psychological stress accumulated over time to create more favorable emotional status. Even in some cases it is felt that the narrator is trying to settle accounts with a specific person by recounting some issues to set free from a mental and conscientious pressure and achieve some sort of peace.

This is one of the strengths of recounting memories. This is precisely why some psychoanalysts are talking to their clients and asking them to express the bitter and sweet memories associated with the various subjects that have persisted for many years.

There are many who experience influx of memories, burst into crying or different emotions during an oral history interview. For, during the interview, they go deep into their mind and revisit sad and happy events, their failures and triumphs, their fears which they have experience during the years, but have never talked about them before, and it is now the first time they have expressed them.

"I say this for the first time and I do not know why I told them to you. In the past, many asked me to tell my memories, but I never went for it. “is a very common statement often heard from the narrators. In fact, the narrator recounts memories because of the trust which has been mutually build ensuring that the narration won’t be subject to abuse and manipulation. Perhaps this is the reason why some narrators are attached to the interviewer and willing to continue their friendship.

In such a situation, a few questions are raised:

Are all interviewees ready to open their mind? Do they all have the same psychological state? Is the person who accepted the interview ready to recount all their memories?

The answer to all these questions is negative and one judgment doesn’t apply to all. An oral history interviewer should pay attention to the fact that people and their condition varies which reflect their intellectual and cultural differences, and each narrator has their unique mental and psychological conditions. Hence, not all are to be expected to open their mind or share the same emotions concerning similar topics.

Sometimes it's even seen that people resist the questions and try to conceal their information and observations. This behavioral pattern may be influenced by some psychological and emotional pressure if it is not due to political and security restrictions or religious or moral considerations, which keeps the narrator from expressing some of his/her memories. In such circumstances, the interviewer shall approach with caution.

However, the narrator has lived for many years with his memories and secrets, and they have become a part of his/her identity, and now we should not expect them to be express all based on some simple justifications.

An oral history interviewer should be mindful of the mental condition of the narrator and try to slowly and gradually extract the memories. However, rushing the narrator will not only compromise the desired result, but might also expose the narrator with some psychological and neurological complications.


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