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The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226259932
ISBN-10: 0226259935
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

At the conclusion of At the Will of the Body (LJ 3/15/91), Frank (sociology, Univ. of Calgary) wrote that "remission society is new." Members of this group are those who, like himself, all live with severe illness or disability and know firsthand "the value of the everyday." In his latest work, Frank expands his narrative from the particular to the universal, from the heart-wrenching story of illness to a sociological theory of illness and ethics. By analyzing the works of authors such as Anatole Broyard, Norman Cousins, Audre Lorde, and Oliver Sacks, as well as the narratives of countless chronically ill, Frank evolves a theory that sick, or "wounded," people tell their stories to make sense of their suffering and to find healing...thus becoming a "moral witness" in society. Frank's structured theorizing may become a landmark in academic sick-role research studies and medical studies. For academic medical collections.
James Swanton, Albert Einstein Coll. of Medicine, New York
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 231 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (May 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226259935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226259932
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #870,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald E. Bartell on February 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an extremely moving book on what it means to have a serious illness, such as cancer, and on why our coming to grips with this requires telling our story to others.

When we are struck by an illness like cancer, our sense of having a meaningful past, present, and future is often severely damaged. Before cancer, if someone had asked us to tell our life story, we would have told it with a certain belief that the past led rationally to where we are, and that our future will be a reasonable result of the same journey that we have been on since we were born. But with cancer, it's very difficult to make sense of the reasonableness of something that has just happened, in spite of the life we've led that was supposed to lead to a different present, and one that we thought would lead to our future dreams. Now, all of that is shattered, and the rest of our future will be uncertain.

In order to mend ourselves, we need to embark on a journey in which we tell our stories. Not once, but over and over. There are many versions of our stories. When we are giving medical history to a doctor or nurse, it's one kind of story, essentially focusing on the medical facts. When we tell a friend or loved one, personal details may be added. Over time, some pieces of the past become minimized in our stories, and other concerns need to be expanded upon. As we tell and retell our story, we resuture our broken selves, reintegrate our past selves with this new wounded present self, and make possible a new future self with new dreams. We become emotionally healthy, in spite of the physical ordeals we may still need to endure. We need to tell our stories for our sake, and we need to share them with others, for their sake.
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Format: Paperback
Frank's novel does a masterful job in identifying the "voice" we all need in the battle with life threatnening illness. Embracing and affirming the "whole person" through their storytelling goes far in overcoming the modernist approach in treating the illness without the person. Recognizing the struggle as an opportunity for journey also sounds the call to help others currently in the trenches to bring about healing. This is a beautiful book.
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Format: Paperback
Don't we all feel uncomfortable when trying to sustain a supportive relationship with someone suffering with a long-term illness? This book gives a philosophical framework for the mindset of someone in that situation. Initially it was rather heavy into social theory, but once you've worked through that part, you get some great food for thought. I've recommended it to folks in pastoral care and psychology.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Frank's book is a classic work on the stories that organize our lives. While he uses illness narratives as his case in point, the application of his work is much broader, from looking at how we have, consciously or unconsciously, set our lives up to work all the way out to looking at cosmology and spirituality.
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A great entry in the study of illness narratives from a postmodern perspective. I'll never forget concepts like "narrative wreckage" and the "remission society." I think this book will inform my work with very ill patients. Gets a little too philosophical for my tastes at times (and experience distant), particularly when turning to narratives and ethics, but this didn't detract from an overall great book.
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