*Part III Chapter 6: Close Reading from Rita Charon, Narrative Medicine (pgs 107-130)
*Arthur Frank, The Wounded Storyteller (pgs xi-xiii, 75-84, 97-102, 115-119)
How do Frank’s 3 types of illness narratives help us and in what ways might this framework limit our understanding of illness narratives? What stories do people tell through social media about illness and how does society receive these stories? Give an example of what common responses to illness narratives might suggest about societal understandings of health inequity. OR Create a narrative about illness that uses common elements outlined in Frank’s illness narrative categories.
Our class began discussing questions posed by Ann Jurecic: “Where did [illness narratives] come from? Why are we so interested in reading them now? Why are so many people interested in writing them now?” In groups, we tackled the illness narrative worksheet, each group focusing on a single category of Frank’s types of illness narrative. I asked for students to focus on examples in popular media, ie. film and art. We then discussed the benefits of this narrative typology and the limitations of this framework, unraveling some of the caveats that must be kept in mind when thinking about these categories. I shared brief slides about the evolution of medicine and narrative, patient- and family-centered care, and examples of using illness narrative types to inform communication strategies and in research.
Some highlights of our conversation include:
-Categorizing types of illness narrative is most helpful for the listener. Importantly, Frank’s illness narrative types are not distinct categories but rather can overlap. How people narrate illness is a dynamic process and different illness narrative types can be expressed at any given moment.
-Understanding how people narrate their experiences with illness can help us to better meet them where they are and provide patient- and family-centered care.
We explored the question of whether “survivor” falls under a restitution narrative vs. a quest narrative (answer: lots of caveats to consider!). The idea of knowing how to respond when a narrative contains elements of chaos and restitution/quest was explored, and the idea of how to best meet patients where they are with how we communicate. We also talked about how knowledge of these narrative types could impact clinical care. Class ended with an engaging creative writing prompt about personifying disease!
My Week 3 lesson plan, worksheet, and slides are included below: