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The story in the body: narrative rememberings and the illness experience


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Fassett, D 1996 , 'The story in the body: narrative rememberings and the illness experience', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Through the stories of a woman whom I have called Anna this thesis explores
the experiences of 'being ill' without a medical diagnosis. Anna suffered an
extreme form of unexplained paralysis following what appeared to be an
asthma attack a few years ago and has never recovered. Through Anna's illness
narrative she identified her 'self' through the medical, scientific discourse as
'consciousness' and an 'object' body and described herself as being 'just a head'.
This study reveals some of the consequences of 'being' a medicalised Cartesian
body. The dominant scientific assumptions of the body in health care have
resulted in some major theoretical tensions that both contradict and complicate
theorising the body. In response to what Anna experienced I have drawn upon
theorists who are committed to re-thinking the body to deepen my
understandings of the experience of illness. The way that knowledge and
meaning are constituted through language and the body are a feature of the
analysis in this study.
Through the process of telling Anna's and my stories I have attempted to
account for 'difference' and 'subject experience' through an analysis of the
stories that we chose to tell about ourselves. These stories reveal something of
the social and material conditions that shape our lives and opens up the
possibilities that there are many 'truths'. Anna and I engaged in critical
conversations that revealed many gaps, inconsistencies, and contradictions as
our stories unfolded. This activity allowed us to make unique sense of our lives.
The stories in this thesis expose how both Anna's and my Cartesian
understandings of the world so dramatically shaped, but at the same time
concealed our stories and thus our experiences. Anna's stories challenge people
to explore a range of different positions on the problematic of illness and the
body as it becomes clearer how narrative may shape and construct our lives
and thus our reality.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Fassett, D
Additional Information:

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