This research reports on narratives of people whose lives had been infected and affected by the devastating disease - HIV/AIDS. The core information, on which this study is based, comes from experiences of those infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS as well as from caregivers. It sweeps away statistics and places those seeking to offer help in the midst of those seeking to be helped. This mutual subject-to-subject relationship becomes the stage on which research/therapy, interviews and conversations are conducted. This study therefore opts for an approach that is informed by the experiences of those infected and/or affected and that addresses the realities of their lives. Care and/or lack of care is identified as a phenomenon, which is a direct reflection on how therapy (research) is done by those providing the care and perceived by those receiving the care. In the light of the experiences (stories) shared by the companions, it became evident that there is an existing need for alternative therapeutic ways, which seeks to embrace a therapeutic approach, which will minimize the external authority, or power of the therapist and at the same time maximizes the authority of those seeking therapy. The Narrative approach is explored as a possible therapeutic approach that could be used to empower those infected and/or affected pastorally in a less¬knowledgeable fashion that is not-controlling, not-manipulative, not¬-authoritative and not-knowing - as "guiding" metaphor which will permit the infected and/or affected to use their own thinking, understanding, emotions, creativity and own resources in a way that best fits them in bringing meaning to their own lives. The entire study seeks to emphasise the importance of a therapeutic approach, which seeks to symbolically embrace the "clouded" story of the infected and affected in a story of God's hope. In this approach the therapist simply becomes aware of the presence of a person(s) for whom the devastating reality of HIV/AIDS is an every day reality. This research does not claim to have the solutions or quick fix miracle answer to the complex HIV/AIDS phenomenon, and it neither claims to have the power to bring any neat conclusion to the HIV/AIDS story, but rather have the potential to stimulate a new story of hope and purpose in the lives of the infected and affected. This research emphasises a position where the infected and affected can inhabit and lay claim to the many possibilities of their own lives that lie beyond the knowledge, assumptions, expectations, goals and understandings of the therapist. A position in which the therapist simply becomes available to talk, listen and support. A position that will empower those infected and affected to tell: • the story of need as broadly as possible, • the story of the past, • the future story in the story of the past, • the reinterpreted story of the past, • the imagined story of the future. (Muller 1999:84)
Thesis (PhD (Practical Theology))--University of Pretoria, 2006.