Sunday, April 14, 2013

Narrative Threads

When I was doing my PhD research in 1997 - 1999 I interviewed a number of people with diabetes three times over a period of 18 months. As I analysed the content of these interviews that asked them to focus on recent experiences of clinic visits and interactions with health care professionals I was very struck by the inconsistencies evident in their accounts. Over time they would contradict themselves or alter the stories about events in the past or expectations about the future. I was very struck by this inconsistency and felt it had an important lesson for us in relation to how people make sense of their condition and the health care that they receive. I became interested in narrative and story making. 
 Yesterday's workshop at the lit and Phil with the wonderful Sheree Mack invited us to explore narrative and storytelling. This led me to revisit this issue and the literature I was reading back then to help make sense of what was going on in my PhD data. I read Jerome Bruner's work and became fascinated with how this new learning could help to shape practice and transform the patients' experience in the clinical encounter. Unfortunately I did not have supervisors who could support me on this journey and I got stuck in a mire of trying to tidy up and identify themes and issues in the data rather than present each story as a whole. Anyway enough of my frustrations!!

Revisiting this subject has been truly inspiring and has helped me articulate at least one of my issues about my unsuccessful attempts at being Dr Sue.

This poem has been inspired by Bruner's work and is my poem for today.
A Self-made Story
Accumulated over twenty years
she does not feel It needs a change.
Her true story just moves around
after it has been shared.
Different audiences,
different decorations.
Shaped as much by life
since it was first told
and circumstances
of when it first happened.
Nothing made up,
deception not the intent.
Memory constrains
the possible fabrication.
Truthfulness important
but the esteem
and myriad expectations
of others shape the telling
each time it is told.

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