Special Medical Humanities Issue:
Representing Trauma; Honouring Broken Narratives
Editors: Deborah Bowman, Renata Kokanovic and Jan Parker
Editorial: Stories, narratives, scenarios in Medicine
This Medical Humanities Special Issue critiques and reflects on narrative practices around
medical, psychiatric and trauma care. This introductory article explores the affordances of
patient experience narratives and scenarios to illuminate lives interrupted by medical and
psychological criseswhile raising questions about the medical ethics, epistemological frameworks
and potential pathologising of diagnosing complex conditions. It discusses the problematics
and ethics of ‘re-presenting’ trauma in art, photography, film or music and the
potential for theatre to raise difficult issues in and beyond medical training.
Listening to what cannot be said: Broken narratives and the lived body
Renata Kokanovic´ and Meredith Stone
The core of this special issue of Arts and Humanities in Higher Education emerged from the Broken Narratives and the Lived Body conference held in 2016. The ‘Broken Narrative’ essays included in this issue open up a critical space for understanding and theorising illness narratives that defy a conventional cognitive ordering of the self as a bounded spatial and temporal entity. Here, we discuss how narratives might be ‘broken’ by discourse, trauma, ‘ill’ lived bodies and experiences that exceed linguistic representation. We trouble distinctions between coherent and incoherent narratives, attending to what gaps, silences and ‘nonsenses’ can convey about embodied illness experiences. Ultimately, we suggest that ‘breaks’ are in fact a continuation of embodied narration. This is shown in the ‘Art and Trauma’ forum of essays, which reveal how narrative silences can ‘infect’ other embodied subjects and be transformed, achieving musical or visual representation that allow us to apprehend the ‘constitutive outside’ of narratives of illness or trauma.