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The Functions of ‘Always’ in Women’s Narratives of Living with Multiple Sclerosis: An Exploratory Analysis of Identity Maintenance and Change

Reynolds, Frances (2003) The Functions of ‘Always’ in Women’s Narratives of Living with Multiple Sclerosis: An Exploratory Analysis of Identity Maintenance and Change. In: Narrative, Memory and Health. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 47-57.

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      Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disease that commonly
      impairs mobility, continence, and levels of energy. The progressive loss of
      functioning and the unpredictable trajectory of the illness are recognised to
      threaten identity and create biographical disruption. This paper is based on indepth
      qualitative research interviews with six women about their strategies for
      living with MS. Previous research into identity change (by Mishler, 1999) has
      noted the regular appearance of ‘always’ in the narratives of people describing
      major life transitions. Influenced by these observations, the author examined
      the functions and meanings of this word within the women’s narratives. The
      analysis revealed that ‘always’ was often used when the women were
      emphasising the long-lasting beliefs, attitudes, interests and personality
      characteristics that sustained them in coping with MS (eg. ‘always positive’,
      ‘always interested in art’). These durable characteristics appeared to provide
      stability of identity in the midst of change and loss. Some references to
      ‘always’ marked the presence of strong, reliable supportive relationships (eg.
      that people were ‘always encouraging’). ‘Always’ was also used in contexts
      which revealed certain ongoing difficulties and the complexities of coping with
      illness. They provided insights into the women’s ‘uncomfortable truce’ with
      MS. These sections tended to have the form ‘always … but …’. Whilst not
      replacing a conventional thematic analysis, this focus upon the use of words
      and linguistic patterns in the narratives provided rich insights into identity
      maintenance and identity threat during chronic illness.

      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
      H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
      B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
      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: 15 Jul 2009 16:31
      Last Modified: 30 Jul 2010 14:18


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