Mario Cardano

"And then I started to hear the voices". Narratives of mental suffering

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract


The essay analyzes the illness narratives a small sample (n=50) of psychiatric patients living in Turin, each providing two long in depth interviews. The paper outlines the experience of biographical disruption that accompanies the emergence of mental suffering and that throws the narrators in a strange and hostile world. The narratives are analyzed focusing on their basic structure, the narrative genre and on the actual plot. The analysis of the plot concentrates on three themes: the irruption of the mental suffering, the encounter with the psychiatric system and the strategies for coping with mental illness. The reconstruction of the elementary structure of narratives is carried out through the narratological model of Algirdas Julien Greimas, individuating the phases of contract, competence, performance and sanction. For the definition of genre, the paper refers to the model of Kenneth Gergen, distinguishing three narratives' forms: tragic, comedy-romance (subdivided in three sub-genres), and the heroic saga.

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