©Royal College of General Practitioners

Honouring a life

AHHE-17-1 Special Medical Humanities Issue: Representing Trauma; Honouring Broken Narratives

& narrative


John’s story

by Sara Ryan



The importance of witnessing broken narratives and somehow writing or representing these is matched by the challenges associated with trying to do this within a context of normativity and expected academic practice. We have to be convincing in our work, both in terms of rigour and dependability but also in terms of the way we make sense of the stories we are told. In this essay, I examine the narrative of John, a 63-year-old British man diagnosed with autism. I explore how, by interrupting John’s narrative in search of the story I wanted and anticipated, I was disrupting his attempts to understand, form and reform his experiences within the interview setting. I argue we have a commitment to ignore the ‘rules’ of interviews and narrative in order to open up space for people to explore and make sense of their experiences beyond the tyranny of our research questions. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1474022217729178

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