Reynolds, Frances (2002) Stitching Together Past and Present: Narratives of Biographical Reconstruction During Chronic Illness. In: Narrative, Memory and Life Transitions. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 127-135.
Abstract

Many studies have noted that a strong sense of biographical disruption can
follow the onset of chronic illness. There has been limited research into
people’s ways of managing this disruption in the longer term. This study
elicited life narratives from four women, who had experienced serious chronic
illness (such as cancer) for at least four years. The women joined the study
because they had identified themselves as discovering creative occupations
(such as textile arts) in the aftermath of diagnosis. Their narratives revealed
how creativity had become central to their subjective well-being, and physical
resilience. Their accounts document how immersion in creative occupations
permitted strong connections to be forged between former and current
identities, repairing the initial disruption that had been experienced, and
facilitating a strong sense of ability rather than impairment. The narratives in
which discovery of the creative occupation are described are often marked by
humour. This paper explores the multiple meanings that humour may serve in
the women’s responses to the interview, and the choices that may be made
during narrative analysis. The participants appear, on the surface, to be living
very different lives from those that they had enjoyed when healthy, but their
accounts make strong connections between present and past roles, abilities and
interests, demonstrating a sense of biographical continuity.

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