Geschichten ohne Ende. Präsentationsstrategien narrativierter Krankheitserfahrung

Mareike von Müller, Matthias Wermeling


Illness narratives feature different strategies of making narrative sense out of a contingent experience. Such strategies have a lineage that goes back to narrative patterns known in medieval literature, and which retain validity in describing recent narrative attempts to generate meaning. This article argues that narrative sense is the product of a process of construction which is formed not solely by the narrator him- or herself, but is rather the result of a cooperative practice between narrator and listener or interviewer respectively. In support of this perspective, we draw on medieval literature and aspects of historical narratology to examine interviews with people suffering from epilepsy and inflammatory bowel disease. The main focus lies on the narrative patterns deployed by the narrators to report on their experiences with illness, as well as on the strategies of presentation chosen by the interviewers and scientists who summarize those interviews and present them in so-called mystories on the homepage