Location of Repository

Stitching Together Past and Present: Narratives of Biographical Reconstruction During Chronic Illness

By Frances Reynolds


Many studies have noted that a strong sense of biographical disruption can\ud follow the onset of chronic illness. There has been limited research into\ud people’s ways of managing this disruption in the longer term. This study\ud elicited life narratives from four women, who had experienced serious chronic\ud illness (such as cancer) for at least four years. The women joined the study\ud because they had identified themselves as discovering creative occupations\ud (such as textile arts) in the aftermath of diagnosis. Their narratives revealed\ud how creativity had become central to their subjective well-being, and physical\ud resilience. Their accounts document how immersion in creative occupations\ud permitted strong connections to be forged between former and current\ud identities, repairing the initial disruption that had been experienced, and\ud facilitating a strong sense of ability rather than impairment. The narratives in\ud which discovery of the creative occupation are described are often marked by\ud humour. This paper explores the multiple meanings that humour may serve in\ud the women’s responses to the interview, and the choices that may be made\ud during narrative analysis. The participants appear, on the surface, to be living\ud very different lives from those that they had enjoyed when healthy, but their\ud accounts make strong connections between present and past roles, abilities and\ud interests, demonstrating a sense of biographical continuity

Topics: R1, H1, BF
Publisher: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:5139

Suggested articles



  1. (1994). A synthesis of qualitative research on wellness-illness, doi
  2. (1998). Against all odds: positive life experiences of people with advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, doi
  3. (1988). Art therapy and multiple sclerosis, Inscape,
  4. (1997). Coping with chronic illness and disability through creative needlecraft. doi
  5. (1998). Creativity and successful aging,
  6. (1991). Effects of multiple sclerosis on occupational and career patterns,
  7. (1991). Good Days, Bad Days: the Self in Chronic Illness and Time, doi
  8. (2000). Introducing narrative psychology: self, trauma and the construction of meaning, Buckingham, doi
  9. (1996). Relationship between occupation and life satisfaction in people with multiple sclerosis, doi
  10. (1991). Remarkable survivors: insights into successful aging among women, doi
  11. (1999). Stories of suffering: subjective tales and research narratives, doi
  12. (1999). Successful aging and creativity in later life, doi
  13. (1991). The role of humor and the self, doi
  14. (1993). The role of humor in enhancing the quality of later life.
  15. (1993). Using the Creative Arts in Therapy: A Practical Introduction. 2nd Edition, doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.