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Soc Sci Med. 1994 Mar;38(6):811-22.

The concept of therapeutic 'emplotment'.

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Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Illinois at Chicago 60612.


This paper considers the narrative structure of clinical action. I argue that clinical encounters involve clinician and patient in the creation and negotiation of a plot structure within clinical time. This clinical plot gives meaning to particular therapeutic actions by placing them within a larger therapeutic story. No therapeutic plot is completely pre-ordained, however. Improvisation and revision are necessary to its creation. In making a case for the narrative construction of lived time, of narratives that are created before they are told, this paper departs from the predominant mode of narrative analysis within medical anthropology that has focused on narrative discourse. Therapeutic emplotment is concretely considered through an interpretation of a single case, a clinical interaction between an occupational therapist and a head-injured patient.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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