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Soc Sci Med. 1990;30(11):1173-86.

Personal narratives, social careers and medical courses: analysing life trajectories in autobiographies of people with multiple sclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Human Sciences, Brunel, University of West London, Uxbridge, Middlesex, England.


Personal accounts of illness have always proved difficult to analyse. Using the distinction between personal narratives of illness, social careers of sickness and physical courses of disease this paper argues that such narratives provide an important and complementary means of understanding changes in health status. In developing a broad typology of such narratives it is argued that they can be considered as thermatically organised life stories. Personal accounts of the lives of people with multiple sclerosis are subject to narrative analysis, and the value of such perspectives is stressed in giving access to the personal world of illness.

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