liu.seSearch for publications in DiVA
Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
In dialogue with time: Identity and illness in narratives about chronic fatigue
Linköping University, The Tema Institute. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, The Tema Institute. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3033-9879
2003 (English)In: Narrative Inquiry, ISSN 1387-6740, Vol. 13, no 1, 71-97 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

When we are stricken with an illness or some other affliction, the temporal frameworks that we take for granted in our everyday lives are overturned. Thus suffering and illnesses raise questions associated with temporality: were the past events necessary and unavoidable, could anything else have happened, and what will happen next? In this article we will discuss two intertwined problems that have to do with the organization of time in narratives about illness: the interviewee's attempt to create an interview narrative and the researcher's need to create a temporal order and coherence in the interview material properly founded in research. With a foothold in the literary scholars Morson's and Bernstein's theories about shadows of time we base our argument on an analysis of narratives given in interviews by people affected by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The analysis shows various ways time can be used as a discursive tool to temporalize illness and suffering including temporalities that frequently go outside linear time perceptions by the use of “sideshadowings“. These various ways of temporalizing illness influence, for instance, factors like issues of responsibility and freedom of action. Findings like these indicate the importance of including the interviewees' own temporalizations in the analysis of illness narratives in social science.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2003. Vol. 13, no 1, 71-97 p.
Keyword [en]
Illness Narratives, Interviews, Narrative Analysis, Responsibility, Temporalization
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-22862DOI: 10.1075/ni.13.1.03bulLocal ID: 2203OAI: diva2:243175
Available from: 2009-10-07 Created: 2009-10-07 Last updated: 2013-09-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Making sense of contested illness: Talk and narratives about chronic fatigue.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Making sense of contested illness: Talk and narratives about chronic fatigue.
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The primary aim of this thesis is to study how people suffering from chronic fatigue (usually Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, CFS) make sense of their medically unexplained and invisible illness. Due to the vagueness and indefinable character of this illness, it becomes disputed and doubted in many contexts. Thus, I call it a contested illness. Drawing on data from a patient school as well as from recurring interviews with former participants of this school, the meaning-making processes are examined from a communicative and interactive perspective using a primarily narrative approach.

The analysis shows two principle ways of making sense of a contested illness like chronic fatigue, in narrative reconstructions and as interactional processes. Aspects of the narrative reconstructions that can be distinguished as particularly essential to this sense-making are morality and time. Both aspects become closely linked to issues aboutidentity in chronic illness since they concern biography and the personal story of life. In interview narratives, people described the changes in the moral frameworks they use in order to orientate themselves in their quest for what it is to lead a good life. By temporalising their illness, people seemed to deal with issues like responsibility, freedom of liability, blame and guilt, probably prompted by the contestedness of this illness.

Through what is described as the discursive management and the sharing of experience, making sense of chronic fatigue in the patient school turned out to be primarily an interactional process. In interaction with the professionals in the school, the ill persons examined their experiences of suffering in relation to the professionals' views of the illness in a way that seemed to lead to a greater ability to manage illness discursively. Sharing experience of illness by telling each other one's personal story, and by co-narrating the story of suffering from chronic fatigue, meant that a joint image of the illness was created and that personal experiences were transformed into shared collectivised experiences. By this process, also the individual suffering was confirmed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Tema Kommunikation, 2003. 122 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 280
chronic illness, CFS, illness narratives, illness experience, narrative analysis, sense-making, interaction, identity, morality, temporalization, co-narration, storytelling, discursive management, kroniskt trötthetssyndrom, patienter
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-24037 (URN)3593 (Local ID)91-7373-745-3 (ISBN)3593 (Archive number)3593 (OAI)
Public defence
2003-10-31, Sal Key 1, Hus Key, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-07 Created: 2009-10-07 Last updated: 2014-09-01Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Bülow, PiaHydén, Lars-Christer
By organisation
The Tema InstituteFaculty of Arts and Sciences
In the same journal
Narrative Inquiry
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 278 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link