Published On June 3, 2015
EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD STORY…ESPECIALLY IF IT’S TRUE. While most narratives follow a similar structure, with a beginning, a middle and an end, what distinguishes one from another tends to be a point of conflict or crisis—one of the trials and tribulations fundamental to the human experience. Will the narrator or protagonist be equal to the task? How will that person change? And what happens next?
A challenge conquered forms the backbone of some of the world’s most compelling stories. And some of our most trying moments come when we are ill.
“The arc of the memoir has to do with crisis met and overcome,” says Suzanne Koven, an internist and writer-in-residence at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Memoirs are generally stories of redemption.”
In a presentation she delivered on May 12th, 2015, Koven discusses stories of survival, examining the historical approaches, therapeutic potential and inherent challenges of writing a medical memoir.
“These are the people who turned the illness experience into memoir, who turned crisis into art.”
Watch her full lecture here.
Stay on the frontiers of medicine
- The Literary Physician
Rita Charon, director of a new program in narrative medicine at Columbia University, discusses how developing narrative skills can create better physicians.