Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 409–420 | Cite as

Authoring experience: the significance and performance of storytelling in Socratic dialogue with rehabilitating cancer patients

  • Jeanette Bresson Ladegaard Knox
  • Mette Nordahl Svendsen
Scientific Contribution


This article examines the storytelling aspect in philosophizing with rehabilitating cancer patients in small Socratic dialogue groups (SDG). Recounting an experience to illustrate a philosophical question chosen by the participants is the traditional point of departure for the dialogical exchange. However, narrating is much more than a beginning point or the skeletal framework of events and it deserves more scholarly attention than hitherto given. Storytelling pervades the whole Socratic process and impacts the conceptual analysis in a SDG. In this article we show how the narrative aspect became a rich resource for the compassionate bond between participants and how their stories cultivated the abstract reflection in the group. In addition, the aim of the article is to reveal the different layers in the performance of storytelling, or of authoring experience. By picking, poking and dissecting an experience through a collaborative effort, most participants had their initial experience existentially refined and the chosen concept of which the experience served as an illustration transformed into a moral compass to be used in self-orientation post cancer.


Authoring experience Experience as drama Narrative re-envisioning Performance of storytelling Rehabilitating cancer patients Socratic dialogue groups Threefold authoring 



The authors wish to thank the participants in this project who generously shared their existential experiences at a most challenging time in their lives.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanette Bresson Ladegaard Knox
    • 1
  • Mette Nordahl Svendsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public HealthUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark

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