Diagnosis Narratives and the Healing Ritual in Western Medicine  book cover
1st Edition

Diagnosis Narratives and the Healing Ritual in Western Medicine

ISBN 9780367588519
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
272 Pages

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Book Description

The dominance of "illness narratives" in narrative healing studies has tended to mean that the focus centers around the healing of the individual. Meza proposes that this emphasis is misplaced and the true focus of cultural healing should lie in managing the disruption of disease and death (cultural or biological) to the individual’s relationship with society. By explicating narrative theory through the lens of cognitive anthropology, Meza reframes the epistemology of narrative and healing, moving it from relativism to a philosophical perspective of pragmatic realism. Using a novel combination of narrative theory and cognitive anthropology to represent the ethnographic data, Meza’s ethnography is a valuable contribution in a field where ethnographic records related to medical clinical encounters are scarce. The book will be of interest to scholars of medical anthropology and those interested in narrative history and narrative medicine.

Table of Contents

Part I: Methods
1. Fieldwork methods
2. The theoretical frame

Part II: The diagnosis narratives
3. Entrance into the field
4. Who is narrating and what story are they telling?
5. Spatial cognitions
6. The doctor tells the diagnostic story to the patient
7. Joint attention to the diagnostic narrative
8. Spatial therapy

Part III: Ritual healing in Western medicine
9. Ritual theory
10. Disease as an existential threat
11. Qualifications of a leech
12. Healing relationships
13. When the healing ritual fails

Part IV: The body politic
14. The business of medicine
15. Overdiagnosis and overtreatment

Part V: Narrative studies on healing reconsidered

16. Narrative healing reconsidered
17. Theoretical synthesis
18. Reflections of a healer

Appendix A: Individual patient narratives
Appendix B: Doctors talk about work
Appendix C: Codebook and themes

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James P. Meza is Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Science at Wayne State University School of Medicine, USA. He holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology and is a practising doctor of medicine (MD).