Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 453–478

Life stories and sickness experience: A performance perspective

  • Judith Monks


This paper concerns how a ‘performance’ perspective may aid our under-standing of life story data in the investigation of sickness experience. The argument is illustrated through structural and thematic analysis of the life story of a young English woman with multiple sclerosis (MS). The life story genre allowed the author creatively to explore contrasting perspectives on the shaping of social relations by bodily disorder. This was in the context of her more general concerns about definition and change in social relationships and the physical body. Performance relates the form and content of the story to generative social experience as well as to multiple readings and reformulations. It thus gives insight into the constitutive processes through which bodily knowledge is produced and shared in relation to notions of person and self.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith Monks
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Health, Sickness and Disablement (CSHSD) Department of Human SciencesBrunel UniversityUxbridgeUK
  2. 2.Department of Sociology & Social AnthropologyUniversity of KeeleUK

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