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Women's Narratives of Living with MS in the Family Context: Reconciling Complex Experiences, Integrating Complex Identities

Reynolds, Frances (2004) Women's Narratives of Living with MS in the Family Context: Reconciling Complex Experiences, Integrating Complex Identities. In: Narrative, Memory & Identity: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 139-151.

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      This study explored women’s strategies for living with multiple sclerosis and
      whether/how they maintained satisfaction with life amidst loss of physical
      function. The family context emerged as a complex influence on participants’
      process of managing illness and identity. Four narratives are examined,
      provided by women in mid-life, with husbands and teenage/adult children.
      Participants described many positive strategies for resisting domination by
      illness, whilst also revealing numerous struggles, particularly in relation to
      being a mother and wife who has MS. The narratives could not be easily
      classified as they contained many contrasts and tensions. For example, the
      women described receiving much care from family members, but also clearly
      provided much care in return; they saw themselves as having special needs but
      also great strengths; they often presented themselves as strong, but at certain
      points admitted being overwhelmed by their situations; some oscillated
      between seeing their illness, or their families, as the most stressful aspect of
      life. The stress of illness varied to some extent according to the responses of
      family members. Participants accepted that MS inevitably affected everyone in
      the family system, but they simultaneously worked to protect other family
      members and to minimise its intrusiveness. Coping with illness did not only
      reflect individually chosen strategies. The women drew upon stories handed
      down from parents and other family members about their ways of confronting
      adversity. The numerous tensions within the women’s stories of coping with
      MS show that illness is socially embedded and illuminate the complexity of
      lives and social identity.

      Item Type: Book Chapter
      Additional Information: Copyright for chapters remain with individual authors at all times and permission should be sought from the author for any reproduction other than for personal use.
      Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
      R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
      H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
      Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences > Narrative and Memory Research Group > Narrative and Memory Research Group Annual Conference
      School of Human and Health Sciences
      Related URLs:
      Depositing User: Cherry Edmunds
      Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2009 09:10
      Last Modified: 30 Jul 2010 14:14


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