Narrating kidney disease: the significance of sensation and time in the emplotment of patient experience

Cult Med Psychiatry. 2005 Sep;29(3):341-59. doi: 10.1007/s11013-005-9171-8.


Drawing on research conducted among patients in Ireland, this article examines the narrative constructions of chronic kidney failure and explores the ways in which patient narratives cross-cut and subvert modernist medical constructions of transplantation as a therapeutic outcome, an endgame, a "gift of life." In experience, patients dismantle this construction structure by emplotting their stories around the painful lack of an ending, ardently brought to bear by the lived realities of immunosuppressant drug therapy, the silent fears of graft rejection, and the isolation of recipiency. They articulate, instead, stories that disclose a multi-directional flow between past and future therapeutic interventions, between the altering nature of the renal body and personal experience. These storied dimensions are phenomenologically embedded in the sensory and temporal aspects of this condition as essential elements of chronic illness and as organizational properties of patient narratives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / psychology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Kidney Transplantation / immunology
  • Kidney Transplantation / psychology
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Narration*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Renal Dialysis / psychology
  • Sensation*
  • Sick Role*
  • Social Isolation
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Time