Thursday, September 3, 2020

About This Blog

Pathographies are illness narratives and have become increasingly popular over the past few decades.  This blog contains references to illness narratives that I have found helpful.  The genre is interesting and important.   

There are three main types of pathography (and they may overlap):  Quest, Chaos and Restitution stories.  Pathographies are an essential adjunct to learning about the illness experience.

·      Quest: a person journeys through and faces suffering head on in the belief that something is to be gained from the illness experience.

·      Chaos: The rarest type and often the most important.  When people are overwhelmed by the intensity of their illness, to speak coherently becomes impossible. The underlying message is that life does not get better. All this provokes anxiety as the mask slips off to reveal human frailty and vulnerability. No Hollywood endings here.  

·      Restitution: In the West, we are mainly preoccupied with the restitution narrative, which goes: "Yesterday I was healthy, today I am sick but tomorrow I will be healthy again." There is a belief in restorable health.  Planet Hollywood rules.

Arthur Frank wrote a book about pathographies called "The Wounded Storyteller" (1995).  Notes on this can be found at Google-Docs. It's more than most people will want to read, but if you do, contact me if you need an invitation.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Breathing for a Living

by Laura Rothenberg  Wikipedia

Twenty-one-year-old Laura Rothenberg had always tried to live a normal life--even with lungs that betrayed her and a constant awareness that she might not live to see her next birthday. Like most people born with cystic fibrosis, the chronic disease that affects primarily the lungs, Laura struggled to come to grips with a life that had already been compromised in many ways. Sometimes healthy and able to attend school, other times hospitalized for weeks, Laura found solace in keeping a diary. In her writing, she could be open, honest, and irreverent, like the young person she was. Yet behind this voice is a penetrating maturity about her mortality, revealing a will and temperament that is fierce and insightful.

Also see: The Amazing Life of Laura by Andrew Solomon