Claiming and Acclaiming Afflictions: Narrative Medicine and the Articulation of Human Ailments

Abstract

How does narrative medicine work? In Rita Charon’s germinal work entitled Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness (2006), she asserts how the creative narration of the patient’s stories, supported by the medical knowledge of the doctors, make for an effective and potent tool for sharing and airing the narratives of illness and wellness. Aside from the importance of being able to write down narratives, what is compelling is the significant impact of being able to trace the contours of breakages and gaps within the stories. The value of giving pure attention to what is unsaid – the silences, the pauses, the gestures – no matter how small, are more relevant than ever. In this essay, I attempt to trace the significance of narratives in a creative and critical lens that renders narrative medicine in the Philippine setting. I argue that articulating these experiences of illnesses contribute to that transformation and strengthening of survival and recovery methods. Through various materials of creative nonfiction, I demonstrate the inherent power of narratives in purging the vitality of utterance in the process of recovery. Ultimately, via creative language, we may start confronting these painful realities through the articulation of experiences.

Keywords

narrative medicine, pathography, Rita Charon


Juan Miguel Leandro Quizon

As a researcher, Juan Miguel Leandro Quizon specializes in comparative Southeast Asian cultural studies. He received his MA in Literary and Cultural Studies from the Ateneo de Manila University. He is currently an Assistant Professorial Lecturer under the Literature Department at De La Salle University – Manila where he is also finishing his PhD in Literature. He was a Research Fellow at the Asia Graduate Student Fellowship under the Asia Research Institute – National University of Singapore in 2015.

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