Narrating embodied experience: sharing stories of trauma and recovery

David Carless*, Kitrina Douglas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we explore our use of a dialogical storytelling approach to alleviate some of the tensions involved in researching another person's embodied experience. These tensions concern the problems of (a) how to access another's embodied experience and (b) how to represent that experience. We consider these issues through sharing creative nonfiction stories, alongside theoretical reflections, drawn from our research into the meaning and value of an adapted sport and inclusive adventurous training course for military personnel who have experienced serious injury and/or trauma. In terms of accessing another's embodied experience, we observe how co-experienced physical movement seemed to allow taboo tales to be shared. In moments like these, there is a sense of ‘doing together’ that supports story sharing—embodied interaction is the medium that allows it to happen. We suggest that evocative stories of personal embodied experience are unlikely to be shared or witnessed without an immersive embodied interaction. In terms of representation, we propose that faithful portrayals of embodied experience are most likely to be achieved through particular writing strategies. Because another's embodied experience can only be glimpsed tangentially, through a physical–emotional sensibility, it needs to be evoked, implied or rendered through aesthetic forms. We have found storytelling to be one way of writing that allows us to express and communicate complex and sometimes ambiguous forms of embodied knowledge, understanding and wisdom that we may not yet have fully grasped ourselves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-61
Number of pages15
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • adapted sport
  • adventurous training
  • creative non-fiction
  • fieldwork
  • military
  • narrative
  • representation
  • story
  • trauma


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