Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chapter 9- Pathography and Enabling Myths

Pathologies, as defined on the first page of the chapter, are autobiographies and biographies about illness. "It is only in our era that the illness narrative constitutes a genre all its own" (222), writes Hawkins. This type of narrative gives the patient a voice. This voice tells the story of the illness, a story that is both more and less than the truth of the experience. Memory is deceiving in this way. However, this creates a sort of myth that often encompasses a particular social phenomenon. In this chapter, the example given to us by the author is the autobiographical piece A Shallow Pool of Time, which perceives AIDS as a cultural disease. Another illness that might be written about in this way is eating disorders. This idea of the pathology as a social document is very compelling indeed.

Hawkins explains that the mythical thinking "serves a healing function," as pathologies "interpret experience rather than record" (229). This is essential to its role in the healing process. 

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