“The Graphic Proximity of Intimate Loss”: the Role of Narrative Medicine in Articulating Marginalised and Excluded Voices
Academics apply value judgments on the legitimacy of Narrative Medicine and whether it actually evokes an untapped empathy in medical professionals. However, by adopting a purely educational perspective, academics exclude the voices of the sick/dying who exist beyond institutional walls. In Section I, this paper unpacks the opposing views surrounding the successes and limitations of Narrative Medicine but ultimately moves to understand the ways in which it seeks to reach the otherwise excluded voices of the sick/dying. This paper then adopts Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s White Glasses (1991) as a case study, in Section II, to further probe the ways in which Narrative Medicine can embrace diversity and interrogate the subjectivity of Narrative. However, whilst an individual narrative such as Kosofsky Sedgwick’s offers insight into a singular lived experience of suffering, Narrative Medicine as a genre excludes many voices when it disregards those with an inability to describe their lives narratologically. So, in Section III, this paper explores the potentiality for a more all-encompassing interpretation of Narrative Medicine which holds space for more diverse representations of suffering. Through the analysis of Frida Kahlo’s What the Water Gave Me (1938) this paper argues that by embracing pictorial representations of human experience, Narrative Medicine can evolve into more inclusive space. The role of Narrative Medicine in the Medical Humanities remains mobile but, despite its limitations, a personalised approach to pathography articulates the marginalised voices of the sick/dying.
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