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Durham University

Department of English Studies


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Publication details for Dr Angela Woods

Woods, A (2013). Rethinking 'patient testimony' in the medical humanities the case of Schizophrenia Bulletin’s first-person accounts. Journal of Literature and Science 6(1): 38-54.

Author(s) from Durham


Narrative, in particular so-called ‘illness narrative,’ constitutes a central focus for medical humanities scholars in literary studies, history, philosophy, anthropology, geography, sociology and, increasingly, the clinical disciplines. Regarded as a form of patient testimony, narrative is also seen as vital to the project of understanding, challenging, and even reconciling the divergence between scientific and experiential accounts of health, illness and medical practice. This article offers a critique of medical humanities approaches to narrative by offering the first sustained engagement with the First Person Accounts published in Schizophrenia Bulletin since 1979. Part one addresses the paratextual dimensions of the First Person Accounts and the editorial policies shaping their publication. Part two explores the nature of the contract implied between author and reader in this ‘genre of insight.’ Finally, this article presents four possible models or modes of reading the First Person Accounts and asks what consequences and commitments arise from their adoption.

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