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Unfitting Stories: Narrative Approaches to Disease, Disability, and Trauma illustrates how stories about ill health and suffering have been produced and received from a variety of perspectives. Bringing together the work of Canadian researchers, health professionals, and people with lived experiences of disease, disability, or trauma, it addresses central issues about authority in medical and personal narratives and the value of cross- or interdisciplinary research in understanding such experiences.

The book considers the aesthetic dimensions of health-related stories with literary readings that look at how personal accounts of disease, disability, and trauma are crafted by writers and filmmakers into published works. Topics range from psychiatric hospitalization and aestheticizing cancer, to father-daughter incest in film. The collection also deals with the therapeutic or transformative effect of stories with essays about men, sport, and spinal cord injury; narrative teaching at L’Arche (a faith-based network of communities inclusive of people with developmental disabilities); and the construction of a “schizophrenic” identity. A final section examines the polemical functions of narrative, directing attention to the professional and political contexts within which stories are constructed and exchanged. Topics include ableist limits on self-narration; drug addiction and the disease model; and narratives of trauma and Aboriginal post-secondary students.

Unfitting Stories is essential reading for researchers using narrative methods or materials, for teachers, students, and professionals working in the field of health services, and for concerned consumers of the health care system. It deals with practical problems relevant to policy-makers as well as theoretical issues of interest to specialists in bioethics, gender analysis, and narrative theory.

Read the chapter “Social Trauma and Serial Autobiography: Healing and Beyond” by Bina Freiwald on the Concordia University Library Spectrum Research Repository website.

Table of Contents

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  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
  2. pp. iii-iv
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-ix
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  1. Acknowledgements
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. The Editors
  2. pp. xiii-xiv
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  1. INTRODUCTION Narrative Frames
  1. Making Sense of Disease, Disability,and Trauma: Normative and Disruptive Stories
  2. pp. 3-10
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  1. Interdisciplinarity and Postdisciplinarity in Health Research in Canada
  2. pp. 11-22
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  1. PART I: Public Framing of Personal Narratives
  1. Introduction: Aesthetics, Authenticity, and Audience
  2. pp. 25-31
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  1. Authorizing the Memoir Form: Lauren Slater’s Three Memoirs of Mental Illness
  2. pp. 33-43
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  1. Telling Trauma: Two Narratives of Psychiatric Hospitalization
  2. pp. 45-52
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  1. Between Two Deaths: AIDS, Trauma, and Temporality in the Work of Paul Monette
  2. pp. 53-60
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  1. Paper Thin: Agency and Anorexia in Geneviève Brisac’s Petite
  2. pp. 61-69
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  1. The Incomprehensible Density of Being: Aestheticizing Cancer
  2. pp. 71-78
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  1. Challenging Subjects: Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer, Christopher Nolan, and Autobiography
  2. pp. 79-87
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  1. The Tectonics of Trauma: Father–Daughter Incest in Film
  2. pp. 89-96
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  1. The Silvering Screen: Age and Trauma in Akira Kurosawa’s Rhapsody in August
  2. pp. 97-104
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  1. PART II: Representing the Subject
  1. Introduction: Narrative in Qualitative Research and Therapeutics
  2. pp. 107-112
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  1. Writing about Illness: Therapy? Or Testimony?
  2. pp. 113-127
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  1. Constructing a “Schizophrenic” Identity
  2. pp. 129-137
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  1. Space, Temporality, and Subjectivity in a Narrative of Psychotic Experience
  2. pp. 154-163
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  1. Re-sounding Images: Outsiders in Persimmon Blackbridge’s Sunnybrook
  2. pp. 149-158
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  1. (Story-)Telling It like It Is: How Narratives Teach at L’Arche
  2. pp. 159-169
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  1. Disrupting the Academic Self: Living with Lupus
  2. pp. 171-179
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  1. Women Surviving Hemorrhagic Stroke: Narratives of Meaning
  2. pp. 181-189
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  1. Men, Sport, and Spinal Cord Injury: Identity Dilemmas, Embodied Time, and the Construction of Coherence
  2. pp. 191-199
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  1. PART III - The Larger Picture
  1. Introduction: Metanarrative Politics and Polemics
  2. pp. 203-208
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  1. Disability Income: Narratives of Women with Multiple Sclerosis
  2. pp. 209-216
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  1. Narratives of Trauma and Aboriginal Post-secondary Students
  2. pp. 217-225
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  1. Social Trauma and Serial Autobiography: Healing and Beyond
  2. pp. 227-235
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  1. Reports from the Psych Wars
  2. pp. 237-245
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  1. Agoraphobia, Social Order,and Psychiatric Narrative
  2. pp. 247-254
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  1. “They Say the Disease Is Responsible”: Social Identity and the Disease Concept of Drug Addiction
  2. pp. 255-264
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  1. Temporal Assumptions: Aging with Cystic Fibrosis
  2. pp. 265-273
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  1. Ableist Limits on Self-narration: The Concept of Post-personhood
  2. pp. 275-282
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  1. NARRATIVE CONCLUSIONS: An Example of Cross-disciplinary Analysis
  1. Margaret Edson’s Play Wit: Death at the End or the End of Death?
  2. pp. 285-296
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  1. Postscript: Un-fitting Stories, Un-disciplined Research
  2. pp. 297-305
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  1. References
  2. pp. 307-335
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  1. Notes on Contributors
  2. pp. 337-347
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 349-360
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