The intersection of narrative and medicine has long been a compelling place for research, practice, and theory. Current conceptions of this relationship focus, as Rita Charon puts it, "on the fully envisioned plight of each patient, of each caregiver, of each institution of health care, and of the whole society that suffers and that tries to heal." Because narrative has become so important to the medical humanities, looking at narrative critically may help practitioners see ways in which narrative can both engender and deflect healing. An analysis of trauma narrative using the language and conceptual framework of homeostasis and entropy reveals that not all narratives engendered by traumatic experience are healthy or life-giving. Using Harriett Doerr's Stones for Ibarra as an extended representation of trauma and narrative healing, this essay concludes that healing narrative enhances the capacity to embrace radical change and to balance memory, imagination, and the here and now. Healing narrative does not produce freedom from pain but the freedom to mourn loss and live beyond it.


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pp. 358-375
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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