Autobiography: the key to know thyself

If you follow the below you will better ‘know thyself’.

How it should not be written

  • Not a standard historical biographic account: birth, family, education, work/published thought, relationships, death
  • Identifies social identities (husband, brother, candlestick maker) and relationships, but avoids evaluative judgements (good/bad) about these, seeks only to explain them and their origins
  • Not sentimental or whimsical
  • Not a collection of impersonal facts
  • Does not presume an essential self, only an existence that has come to write the autobiography

How it should be written

  • Written in the third person (only because this style helps to avoid evaluative judgements)
  • Objective tone
  • Must be informed by psychological insights
  • A description of one’s life that does not neglect to mention the external forces that has shaped one’s life (genetics, family, school, peer groups, religious institutions, mass media, societal norms and customs)
  • Must explain how one came to see the world in a particular way at particular times
  • Must explain behaviour in terms of both conditioning/social learning  (Behaviourism) and cognitive development (e.g. Piaget’s theory of moral development)
  • If judgements of experiences (both emotional and cognitive/propositional judgements)  are presented there must be an explanation as to how you came to make those judgements considering how you have been influenced in the past.

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