In the subjunctive mode: epilepsy narratives in Turkey

Soc Sci Med. 1994 Mar;38(6):835-42. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(94)90155-4.


Careful analysis of transcripts of interviews we conducted with a sample of persons identified as suffering epilepsy or seizure disorders in an epidemiological study in Turkey revealed not only that life stories of illness have an overall narrative structure but that the interviews were composed as a corpus of shorter stories. Analytic concepts from reader response theory bring attention to aspects of both the overall life story and the stories told about illness. In particular, we identify 'subjunctivizing tactics' present in the narrative representation of illness that allow sufferers and their families to justify continued care-seeking and to maintain hope for positive, even 'miraculous,' outcomes. In particular, these narratives maintain multiple perspectives and the potential for multiple readings, suggesting alternative plots about source and outcome of illness, and they represent potency and the possibilities for healing through stories of encounters with the mysterious.

MeSH terms

  • Anecdotes as Topic*
  • Communication
  • Epilepsy / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Turkey