The Narrative Approach to Pain

  • Howard M. Spiro

Introduction: Narrative

Narrative- framing the patient's story as important- has become attractive to medical practitioners who worry about the growing dominance of “images” in medical diagnosis. “Images” has proven to be the right term for the x-ray/computer generated illustrations which call up the reverence of icons begun in the Byzantine Empire. What patients have to say—how they feel—gets less attention from physicians than the images of their organs. Physicians are so pressed for time that they quickly interrupt their patients, to give the impression they are not listening. And often, they are not! Aggrieved, many patients have turned to alternative practitioners who show more interest in people than in their parts, and who spend more time than mainstream physicians in discussing how their patients feel, and what they want.

Oncologists are well acquainted with the pathos of patients' stories, for they deal with primal issues daily, sharing the suffering of patients fighting...


Medical Student Chronic Pain Narrative Medicine Medical School Admission Narrative Competence 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard M. Spiro
    • 1
  1. 1.Yale University of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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