Narrative Medicine: Trauma and Ethics

Anders Juhl Rasmussen, Morten Sodemann (Eds.)

by Emma McKenzie (York St John University, England), Rivka Tuval-Mashiach (College of Management, Israel), Georgia Fagan (University of Sydney, Australia), Sarah Pini (University of Southern Denmark, Denmark), Lillian Wilde (IU International University of Applied Sciences, England), Astrid Joutseno (University of Turku, Finland), John Launer (University College London, England), Colleen McMillan (University of Waterloo, Canada), Aaron Smith (Yorkville University, Canada), Elizabeth Lanphier (University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, US), Mark Celinscak (University of Nebraska Omaha, US), Oddgeir Synnes (VID Specialized University, Norway), Hilde Bondevik (University of Oslo, Norway), Jacob Y. Stein (College of Management, Israel), Annmaree Watharow (University of Sydney, Australia), Arthur W. Frank (University of Calgary, Canada), Ssanyu Birigwa (Columbia University, US), Molly Lindberg (Columbia University, US), Ricardo Rato Rodrigues (Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej w Lublinie, Poland), T. S. Kavitha (Banaras Hindu University, India), Mahesh Sharma (Central Institute at Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, India), Preeti Puri (National Institute of Technology Hamirpur, India), Shefali (Dr B R Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, India), Mona Baie (University of Heidelberg, Germany), Brooke Covington (Christopher Newport University, US), Victoria Simpson (University of Texas at San Antonio, US), Margaux Danby (University of Kentucky College of Medicine, US), Nora Simonhjell (University of Agder, Norway), Hannah Ming Yit Ho (University of Brunei Darussalam, Brunei), Sue Joseph (Central Queensland University, Australia)

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First, the volume is inclusive in scope, in conscious resistance to the acknowledged tendency of narrative medicine, historically speaking, to emerge (albeit reactively) in relation to a Western medical model. The scope of the volume is diverse: geopolitically (encompassing Asia, Australia, Europe, Middle East, North America); methodologically and theoretically (exploring narrative forms - oral, filmic/televisual, performative as well as written – and their relation to personal, socio-cultural, historical and political experiences and contexts); and in terms of the disciplines it incorporates (health care, history, literature, media studies, medicine, psychology, and philosophy) and the perspectives it embraces (those of patient, practitioner, writer/creator, reader/witness).
Second, and relatedly, the volume is cognisant of recent criticism of narrative medicine as tending to overlook: (i) the degree to which individual stories are vulnerable to being ignored, excluded, or silenced (for people living with disability or survivors of sexual abuse or cultural oppression, for example); and (ii) how story-telling is not the only, and often not the most available, form of expression. Through the inclusivity of (often highly individualised) voices and the identification of concepts such as ‘narrative audibility’ (‘the complex of what stories get heard and what can be told’), the volume is situated as representing “critical” narrative medicine to a significant degree, making it an important contribution to the field.
These advances are possible as a result of the central aim of the volume: to position narrative medicine in relation to trauma and ethical studies on the well-founded basis that they are natural allies. As trauma is ‘an unspeakable or untellable event’ paradoxically in need (therapeutically) of expression, so narrative medicine promises an ethical bearing of witness to traumatic experience when personal articulation is bearable. The result epistemologically is that one domain of rather broad definition (narrative medicine) is encountering another area of study (trauma) that is similarly (and properly) porous, such that the coverage tests the limits of coherence somewhat. The division into three sections (Autoethnography, Care, Aesthetic Narrative) is helpful however and the (excellent and challenging) afterword, insisting that narrative medicine be a practice of respect (in relation to the story and the readiness of is subject to tell it) makes clear that the volume is intended to keep open rather than close down vibrant debate.

Professor Josie Billington
Department of English
Co-Lead, Arts, Mental Health and Wellbeing Theme, Centre for Health, Arts, Society & Environment CHASE
University of Liverpool

This new volume repositions narrative medicine and trauma studies in a global context with a particular focus on ethics. Trauma is a rapidly growing field of especially literary and cultural studies, and the ways in which trauma has asserted its relevance across disciplines, which intersect with narrative medicine, and how it has come to widen the scope of narrative research and medical practice constitute the principal concerns of this volume.
This collection brings together contributions from established and emerging scholars coming from a wide range of academic fields within the faculty of humanities that include literary and media studies, psychology, philosophy, history, anthropology as well as medical education and health care studies. This crossing of disciplines is also represented by the collaboration between the two editors.
Most of the authors in the volume use narrative medicine to refer to the methodology pioneered by Rita Charon and her colleagues at Columbia University, but in some chapters, the authors use it to refer to other methodologies and pedagogies utilizing that descriptor.
Trauma is today understood both in the restricted sense in which it is used in the mental health field and in its more widespread, popular usage in literature. This collection aspires to prolong, deepen, and advance the field of narrative medicine in two important aspects: by bringing together both the cultural and the clinical side of trauma and by opening the investigation to a truly global horizon.

List of Figures
Rishi Goyal
Columbia University, US
Anders Juhl Rasmussen
University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Morten Sodemann
University Hospital Odense and University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

Part 1: Autoethnographic Research
1.1.1 Creating Ethical Storytelling Spaces, in Research and Beyond, for People Living with Disability and Trauma
Annmaree Watharow
University of Sydney, Australia
Sue Joseph
Central Queensland University, Australia
Georgia Fagan
University of Sydney, Australia
1.1.2 An Embodied Narrative Perspective on Transforming Trauma and Illness Experience
Sarah Pini
University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Lillian Wilde
IU International University of Applied Sciences, England
1.1.3 Grieving in the Everyday: Metastatic Cancer, Life Writing and the Grief of the Dying
Astrid Joutseno
University of Turku, Finland

Part 2: Narrative Methods and Ethics in Trauma Care
2.1. Health Care-Centered
2.1.1 Supervising the Traumatized Practitioner Using a Narrative-Based Approach
John Launer
University College London, England
2.1.2 The Dangers of Collecting Small Trauma
Colleen McMillan
University of Waterloo, Canada
Aaron Smith
Yorkville University, Canada
2.1.3 Making Narrative Medicine Practices Trauma Informed
Elizabeth Lanphier
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, US
2.1.4 Care Amidst Chaos: Narrative Medicine and the Holocaust
Mark Celinscak
University of Nebraska Omaha, US
2.2 Patient-Centered
2.2.1 Repair and Re-enchantment: Reading and Writing Cancer
Oddgeir Synnes
VID Specialized University, Norway
Hilde Bondevik
University of Oslo, Norway
2.2.2 Narrative Redemptions for Post-Traumatic Loneliness: The Therapeutic Potential of Qualitative Research in the Aftermath of Trauma
Jacob Y. Stein
College of Management, Israel
Rivka Tuval-Mashiach
College of Management, Israel
2.2.3 Narrative and the Mental Health System: Removing Horror from Mental Health Experiences and Environments
Emma McKenzie
York St John University, England

Part 3: Studies of Aesthetic Trauma Narratives
3.1 Therapeutic Objective
3.1.1 Healing Narratives: Disclosure Relationships and the Ritual of Storytelling in Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You
Ssanyu Birigwa
Columbia University, US
Molly Lindberg
Columbia University, US
3.1.2 Narrating Trauma in Contemporary Literature: The Cases of António Lobo Antunes and Patrick McGrath
Ricardo Rato Rodrigues
Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej w Lublinie, Poland
3.1.3 Narrative Medicine and Holistic Healing: An Ethics of Cure
T. S. Kavitha
Banaras Hindu University, India
Mahesh Sharma
Central Institute at Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, India
3.1.4 Ta(l)king Away the Trauma: Verbo-Visual Testimony and Narrative Humility in Psychiatric Treatment
Preeti Puri
National Institute of Technology Hamirpur, India
Dr B R Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, India
3.2 Analytical Objective
3.2.1 The Trauma of Illness: Reading and Teaching Sarah Manguso’s The Two Kinds of Decay
Mona Baie
University of Heidelberg, Germany
3.2.2 Tell Me Your (Counter)Story: Disrupting Dominant Approaches to Narrative(s), Medicine and Trauma
Brooke Covington
Christopher Newport University, US
3.2.3 Trauma and Healing: Finding Meaning, Identity, and Transformation Through Self-Reflection and Self-Expression
Victoria Simpson
University of Texas at San Antonio, US
3.2.4 Watchmen: Nostalgia and Bearing Witness to Intergenerational Racial Trauma
Margaux Danby
University of Kentucky College of Medicine, US
3.2.5 Traumatic Family Memories, Questions of Care, and the Role of Next of Kin in Contemporary Norwegian Fiction
Nora Simonhjell
University of Agder, Norway
3.2.6 Narratives of Healing and Healers: Malay Muslim Identity in Southeast Asia
Hannah Ming Yit Ho
University of Brunei Darussalam, Brunei
Afterword: Narrative Medicine as Resistance
Arthur W. Frank
University of Calgary, Canada

Author Index
Subject Index

Anders Juhl Rasmussen. Associate professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. MA in Danish and Philosophy, and PhD in Danish literature. Associate professor in Danish literature with research obligations in narrative medicine at Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen. Member of the steering committee for Nordic Network for Narratives in Medicine and CHCI Medical and Health Humanities Network. First editor of the anthology "Narrative Medicine in Education, Practice, and Interventions" (Anthem Press, 2021), and author of several articles and chapters on narrative medicine.

Morten Sodemann. Clinical professor, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark. MA, PhD, consultant physician in infectious diseases. Clinical professor in global health and immigrant medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Southern Denmark. Chief physician, Clinic for Immigrant Medicine, Odense University Hospital. Author of "What you do not know, will hurt the patient" (Open Access, 2020) and several articles and chapters on narrative medicine.

Medical and Health Humanities, patient-centered care, interdisciplinary research

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title
Narrative Medicine: Trauma and Ethics
Number of pages
Physical size
236mm x 160mm
11 B&W
Publication date
April 2024