ERIC Number: EJ856940
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May
Reference Count: 23
Performing Narrative Medicine
Langellier, Kristin M.
Journal of Applied Communication Research, v37 n2 p151-158 May 2009
In this article, the author weaves narrative medicine and performance together to consider what might it mean to call narrative medicine a performance. To name narrative medicine as performance is to recognize the texts and bodies, the stories and selves, that participate in its practice--patients' and physicians' embodied stories as well as the body of medical discourse itself. Performing narrative medicine reminds practitioners that someone has been hurt, and that that person speaks and gestures, touches and is touched, feels fear and pain, hope and despair. The story identifies the bodies and selves that participate in performance. The author's storytelling highlights increasing frustration with a health issue, years of resistance to surgery, and a lengthy, uncomfortable recovery. These concrete and historical moments of performance materialize norms of embodiment (e.g., a healthy, white, middle-aged, middle-class female patient), mobilize narrative frames (e.g., a story of struggle ending with a successful outcome), and hail institutional forms (e.g., surgical intervention by a physician, the necessity of health insurance). Binding narrative medicine to performance marks it as both embodied and discursive, a site where vulnerable bodies are textualized as stories. Although attention to narrative performance is never absent from "Narrative Medicine," it is sometimes overshadowed and obscured by textualization. The textual skills of narrative competence that Rita Charon teaches to clinicians--close reading, stereophonic listening, and writing the Parallel Chart--depend on performance. The author frames this analysis with a brief discussion of how performing narrative medicine participates in the potent and political acts of making and doing stories, a poiesis and a praxis of storytelling.
Descriptors: Physician Patient Relationship, Intimacy, Human Body, Tactual Perception, Performance, Story Telling, Patients, Medicine, Physicians, Death
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Praxis Series