'Let me explain': narrative emplotment and one patient's experience of oral cancer
Recent research has investigated the way in which serious illness potentially poses a threat to peoples' sense of ontological security by throwing into doubt assumptions about time and the future. One of the main ways in which people adjust to such threats is through the use of narrative (either consciously or unconsciously) which helps to make sense of illness. Of particular relevance to people learning to live with a cancer diagnosis, is the concept of 'therapeutic emplotment' developed by Del Vecchio Good et al. (1994). This concept refers to the way in which oncologists are taught to structure temporal horizons for their patients in a particular way in order to instill and maintain hope in the context of arduous and toxic treatments. Using a case-study of one man's process of adapting to oral cancer (John Diamond's posthumously published serialised diary entries in The Times), this paper investigates the way in which such 'therapeutic emplotment' is implicitly incorporated by the patient, providing an underlying plot structure to his story. Following Diamond's diary entries over the 4 years duration of his illness, this paper analytically divides them into six main stages, documenting the underlying temporal structure and themes accompanying each stage of adaptation. The paper illustrates the way in which 'therapeutic emplotment' encourages the patient to focus on the immediate present and to place faith in the efficacy of specific treatments. However, it also explores how the attempt to live in the context of such a plot is fraught with anxiety for the patient, and how it co-exists with other largely 'unspoken narratives' of uncertainty, fear and skepticism in relation to the power of medicine. The main aim of the paper is to document, for the first time, the process of 'therapeutic emplotment' from the oral cancer patient's point of view.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 56 (2003)
Issue (Month): 3 (February)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description|
|Order Information:|| Postal: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/supportfaq.cws_home/regional|
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:3:p:439-448. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.