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Here we go again - A Singular Life History Study Exploring Adversity.pdf (623.1 kB)

‘Here we go again’: A Singular Life History Study Exploring Adversity

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-09-13, 15:49 authored by Frances Palmer, Karen HowellsKaren Howells, David BrownDavid Brown

 This paper explores one individual’s life history to examine how he overcame adversity, his reactions and coping strategies, and the subsequent effects. Data were collected through multiple semi-structured interviews and discussions and analysed using performative and structural narrative analysis. The researchers took the role of storyteller to shape the story into a thematic chronological life history and then switched roles to story analysts to interrogate the story’s meanings and interpretations using social theory. Contrary to previous research on adversity and growth, the participant has learned to accept failure as his pathway for growth. He perceives’ adversity as a natural part of his life; through challenge and distress comes success. The life history presented illustrates this narrative with a particular focus on his sporting and military experiences. More specifically, we identify the presence of two dominant sporting narratives: the performance narrative and the Merry-Go-Round narrative. This account provides an in-depth, disturbing, and heart-breaking insight into one man’s experiences of multiple adversities in two social institutions, sport and the military, and how he subsequently makes sense of life. The participant found the process reflective, enabling him to identify previously inaccessible areas of growth and resilience. It also presented him with the opportunity to make peace with past behaviours and actions, confront weaknesses to move forward and address them to better his present circumstances. We conclude by reflecting on how this story challenges current ideas around adversarial growth, post-traumatic growth and the development of resilience. 


Published in

Auto/Biography Review


British Sociological Association


  • VoR (Version of Record)


Palmer, F., Howells, K., & Brown, D. (2022). ‘Here we go again’: A Singular Life History Study Exploring Adversity . Auto/Biography Review, 3(1).

Electronic ISSN


Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Karen Howells David Brown

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing in Demanding Environments

Copyright Holder

  • © The Authors


  • en

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