Chronic pain as a narratological distress: A phenomenological study

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Objectives: This paper reports finding from a study that focused on people living with chronic pain, chronicling their experiences of pain and emotional distress, and their social and personal narratives.Methods: The paper presents an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) of six interviews conducted with men and women aged between 27 and 61. The interviews were taken from a larger study of the experience of chronic pain.Findings: Chronic pain is a double faced phenomenon: a vivid and total experience on one hand, an elusive and deceptive phenomenon on the other. The nature of this phenomenon-together with the medical and public discourse that ignores and delegitimizes chronic pain this condition-prompts people to question their own experiences and to face what we define as a narratological distress.Discussion: Narratological distress is the internal battle between two unwanted narratives: The elusive delegitimizing narrative of denial, which seeks to ignore the experience of pain; and the narrative that acknowledges the pain, but with the price of accepting oneself as "ill" or "disabled."

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-200
Number of pages9
JournalChronic Illness
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2012


  • Chronic pain
  • biographical disruption
  • emotional distress
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • narratological distress

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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