Unfitting Stories: Narrative Approaches to Disease, Disability, and Trauma illustrates how stories about ill health and suffering have been produced and received from a variety of perspectives. Bringing together the work of Canadian researchers, health professionals, and people with lived experiences of disease, disability, or trauma, it addresses central issues about authority in medical and personal narratives and the value of cross- or interdisciplinary research in understanding such experiences.
The book considers the aesthetic dimensions of health-related stories with literary readings that look at how personal accounts of disease, disability, and trauma are crafted by writers and filmmakers into published works. Topics range from psychiatric hospitalization and aestheticizing cancer, to father-daughter incest in film. The collection also deals with the therapeutic or transformative effect of stories with essays about men, sport, and spinal cord injury; narrative teaching at L’Arche (a faith-based network of communities inclusive of people with developmental disabilities); and the construction of a “schizophrenic” identity. A final section examines the polemical functions of narrative, directing attention to the professional and political contexts within which stories are constructed and exchanged. Topics include ableist limits on self-narration; drug addiction and the disease model; and narratives of trauma and Aboriginal post-secondary students.
Unfitting Stories is essential reading for researchers using narrative methods or materials, for teachers, students, and professionals working in the field of health services, and for concerned consumers of the health care system. It deals with practical problems relevant to policy-makers as well as theoretical issues of interest to specialists in bioethics, gender analysis, and narrative theory.
Read the chapter “Social Trauma and Serial Autobiography: Healing and Beyond” by Bina Freiwald on the Concordia University Library Spectrum Research Repository website.