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    Telling Stories: Life Histories, Illness Narratives, and Institutional Landscape

    Saris, A. Jamie (1995) Telling Stories: Life Histories, Illness Narratives, and Institutional Landscape. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 19 (1). pp. 39-72. ISSN 0165-005X

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    The following transcript is at once part of a life history as well as what we have come to call in medical anthropology an "illness narrative." I collected it during my fieldwork in Ireland in 1988-1990 from a man whom I am calling for the purposes of this paper Finbar McTernan. This text is the fruit of my attempt to elicit a story of a chronic condition, from a life that has, for better or worse, been defined by both this condition and the struggle against its label chewing into the rest of an existence. This story develops from a complicated life at the margins - at the margins of society, of economic success, ultimately of health itself. It is also marginal in another sense. It is a narrative from an articulate person with schizophrenia- a species that much current medical speculation on the subject is loath to imagine. The subject at once acknowledges his (occasionally) profoundly altered phenomenological sense of himself and his surroundings, while struggling against his engulfment by a body of knowledge, psychiatry, which, in his eyes, sees little of him beyond an illness label. In this paper, I develop the idea that a narrative of a chronic condition is not simply a story of personal experience. It is, rather, deeply embedded within various institutional structures that influence its production as a story. As part of my interest in the embeddedness of narrative within institutional frameworks, I also want to focus the reader's critical attention on my own use of a fragment of a transcript from an open-ended interview in the production of a knowledge-product in medical anthropology.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Life History; Illness Narrative; Institutional Landscape;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Anthropology
    Item ID: 11547
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Dr. A. Jamie Saris
    Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2019 14:23
    Journal or Publication Title: Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry
    Publisher: Springer
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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