Craib, Ian (2003) The Unhealthy Underside of Narratives. In: Narrative, Memory and Health. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 1-11.

Elsewhere (Craib, 2000) I have talked about narratives as a form of bad faith,
and I want to extend that analysis here in a more concrete way and suggest that
far from narrative and life being that same ‘thing’ (a la Bruner) they are very
different ‘things’ and, further, that the relationship between narrative, life and
health is not the one we might expect. We might expect that narratives are
good for us, that they help us get our lives together, make sense of where we
are and enable us to go forward. Indeed this is so obvious that - as we see from
a paper delivered at this conference - when people receive bad news, a
diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, helpers set out to provide them with a narrative
that will enable them to be strong and look hopefully at the future.
In this paper I want to argue against such a position; it is my contention
that some narratives can help people in certain situations but more important,
narratives, and perhaps especially the best intentioned of accounts that are
offered by people in the caring professions, can function to keep people in
passive positions, inhibit possible change and separate people from the
authenticity of their lives. I am sympathetic to Martin Amis’s suggestion, that
if there is such a thing as a shared feature of authentic narratives, it lies, at least
in the modern Western world, in our common experience of tragedy. I will use
some examples from my own practice as a psychotherapist to illustrate the
counter productive nature of some narratives.

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