Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 609–624

To be held and to hold one’s own: narratives of embodied transformation in the treatment of long lasting musculoskeletal problems

Scientific Contribution

DOI: 10.1007/s11019-014-9562-0

Cite this article as:
Sviland, R., Martinsen, K. & Råheim, M. Med Health Care and Philos (2014) 17: 609. doi:10.1007/s11019-014-9562-0


This study elaborates on narrative resources emerging in the treatment of longlasting musculoskeletal and psychosomatic disorders in Norwegian psychomotor physiotherapy (NPMP). Patients’ experiences produced in focus group interviews were analyzed from a narrative perspective, combining common themes across groups with in depth analysis of selected particular stories. NPMP theory expanded by Løgstrup’s and Ricoeur’s philosophy, and Mattingly’s and Frank’s narrative approach provided the theoretical perspective. Patients had discovered meaning imbued in muscular tension. Control shifted from inhibiting discipline and cognitive strategies, towards more contingence with gravity and sensation, and increased freedom to be what and who they were. Trust, time, open speech, and being respectfully listened to were described as therapeutic pre-conditions. The body was experienced as the source of their voice as their own. As tension patterns transformed, novel experience in sensation appeared to feed narrative imagination, reshaping past plots, embodied identity and future prospects. NPMP was disclosed as a treatment integrating detection, battle and repair as narrative subplots, but the core narrative was the journey of transformation. Novel embodied narrative resources nourished the quest for a life and identity in tune with the body as one’s own.


Narrative genres Narrative identity Transformation Muscular tension Sensation and awareness Norwegian psychomotor physiotherapy 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Randi Sviland
    • 1
  • Kari Martinsen
    • 2
  • Målfrid Råheim
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Harstad University College and Haraldsplass Deaconess University CollegeBergenNorway

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