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J Holist Nurs. 2003 Sep;21(3):228-41.

Restoring the patient's voice. The therapeutics of illness narratives.

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University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, School of Nursing, USA.


Reflective and insightful autobiographical accounts of illness not only illuminate fundamental disruptions in selfhood and continuity of life that accompany illness, but authors of such accounts also maintain that narration is an important way to make sense of an illness episode, to restore personhood and connectedness, and to reclaim the illness experience from the medical meta-narrative. That witnessing and helping to order illness narratives can be a caring/healing nursing practice modality with significant healing potential is supported both by narrative theory and by nursing's theoretical and philosophical legacy. The challenge for the nurse guided by narrative ideas is to give primacy to the patient's voice, to listen for meaning rather than for facts, and to provide a relationship enabling the evolution of the patient's story.

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