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Unfitting Stories

Narrative Approaches to Disease, Disability, and Trauma

Edited by Valerie Raoul, Connie Canam, Angela D. Henderson, and Carla Paterson
Subjects Psychology, Ethnography
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Hardcover : 9780889205093, 376 pages, March 2007

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Unfitting Stories: Narrative Approaches to Disease, Disability, and Trauma edited by Valerie Raoul, Connie Canam, Angela D. Henderson, and Carla Paterson

Acknowledgments and Dedication

Introduction — Narrative Frames

Making Sense of Disease, Disability, and Trauma: Normative and Disruptive Stories | The Editors

Interdisciplinarity and Postdisciplinarity in Health Research in Canada | Judy Z. Segal


Part I — Public Framing of Personal Narratives

Introduction: Aesthetics, Authenticity, and Audience | The Editors

Authorizing the Story: Lauren Slaters Memoirs of Mental Illness | Helen Buss

Telling Trauma: Two Narratives of Psychiatric Hospitalization | Hilary Clark

AIDS, Trauma, and Temporality: Paul Monette between Two Deaths | Lisa Diedrich

Paper Thin: Agency and Anorexia in Geneviéve Brisac’s Petite | Barbara Havercroft

Incomprehensible Density of Being: Aestheticizing Cancer | Ulrich Teucher

Challenging Subjects: Bodies, Texts, and Legitimacy | Heidi Janz and | Julie Rak

The Techtonics of Trauma: Father-Daughter Incest in Film | Gail Finney

The Silvering Screen: Age and Trauma in Kurasawa’s Rhapsody in August | Sally Chivers


Part II — Representing the Subject

Introduction: Narrative in Qualitative Research and Therapeutics | The Editors

Writing about Illness: Therapy or Testimony? | Anne Hunsaker Hawkins

Constructing a ``Schizophrenic’’ Identity | Barbara Schneider

Space, Temporality and Subjectivity in a Narrative of Psychotic Experience | Lourdes Rodriguez Del Barrio

Re-sounding Images: Outsiders in Blackridge’s Sunnybrook | Joy James

(Story-)Telling It like It Is: How Narratives Teach at L’Arche | Pamela Cushing

Disrupting the Academic Self: Living with Lupus | Janet MacArthur

Women Surviving Hemorrhagic Stroke: Narratives of Meaning | Sharon Dale Stone

Men, Sport, and Spinal Cord Injury: Identity Dilemmas | Brett Smith and | Andrew C. Sparkes


Part III — The Larger Picture

Introduction: Metanarrative Politics and Polemics | The Editors

Disability Income: Narratives of Women with Multiple Sclerosis Lyn Jongbloed

Narratives of Trauma and Aboriginal Postsecondary Students | Robert Procyk and | Christine Crowe

Social Trauma and Serial Autobiography: Healing and Beyond | Bina Toledo Freiwald

Reports from the Psych Wars | Richard Ingram

Agoraphobia, Social Order, and Psychiatric Narrative | Shelley Z. Reuter

The Disease Is Responsible? Drug Addiction and the Disease Model | Joanne Muzak

Temporal Assumptions: Aging with Cystic Fibrosis | J. Daniel Schubert

Ableist Limits on Self-Narration: The Concept of Post-Personhood | James Overboe

Narrative Conclusions — An Example of Cross-Disciplinary Analysis

Margaret Edson’s Play Wit: Death at the End or the End of Death? | Valerie Raoul, Connie Canam, Gloria Oneyoziri, Carla Paterson




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.


``The individual essays in Unfitting Stories provide useful examples of possible approaches to the study of disease, disability, and trauma narratives, including the acknowledgement of both the potentials of and problems with research focused on narrative. (The latter are addressed most directly by James Overboe's challenge to the way narrative has become synonymous with personhood. ) The strength of this book is its interdisciplinary and its expressed awareness of the possibilities and obstacles of an interdisplinary project. The overarching message of the volume is that no single disciplinary approach can be comprehensive—that cross-disciplinary conversations need to happen in order to help us better understand the role of narrative in relation to the destabilizing forces of disease, disability, and trauma. ''

- Sheila Bock, Western Folklore, 68, 2–3, 2009

``Unfitting Stories is a thoughtful gathering of approaches to understanding the relationship between narrative structures and the myriad personal, social, and political meanings of trauma, illness, and disability. In this age of memoir, such a collection is both timely and new. ... Readers will have much to choose from. ''

- Susannah B. Mintz, Biography, 31:4, Fall 2008

``Unfitting Stories is an extraordinary book. The remarkable ability of the authors to effectively highlight the illuminating and unifying ability of narrative, while bridging the gap between academic knowledge and personal experience, makes this book essential reading. The interested read not only gains a sense of the authority inherent in narrative, but, importantly, gains a realization that narrative is much more than the re-telling of one's life story. ''

- Richard A. Meckel, Sexuality and Disability, Vol. 26, No. 1, March 2008