In this article, the authors argue that the narrative mode of knowledge represented by narratives in clinical care and research practices in the field of mental health is fundamental. They highlight the different perspectives professionals and patients have regarding the illness phenomenon. While to the professionals, illness is approached in a third-person perspective, to the patients, illness is, first and foremost, a lived experience of complete modification of the being, with the effect of creating distance and suspension and a crisis of signification. Narratives allow us to put both perspectives together by forging bonds between what is common and what is extraordinary, what is expected and what is unexpected, canonical and surprising, concordant and discordant. Illness asks for, prompts, narratives. The narrative provides meaning, context, and perspective to the patients’ problems, defining how and why they are ill. Illness narratives express the singularity of the illness experience to each subject. However, this singularity is not solipsistic, as it bears the marks of time, history, culture and of the institutional context in which the subject is immersed. We suggest that within the context of recovery-oriented care practices, methodologies that adopt a relational perspective for the shared production of narratives, such as collaborative writing, should play a key role in the education of professionals, in the recovery clinic and in research.


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pp. 155-164
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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