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Jensen, C. (2009). Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine. Edited by Peter L. Rudnytaky and Rita Charon. SUNY Press, 2008. 308 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 96(6):1079-1081.
   

(2009). Psychoanalytic Review, 96(6):1079-1081

Books

Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine. Edited by Peter L. Rudnytaky and Rita Charon. SUNY Press, 2008. 308 pp.

Review by:
Carla Jensen

The emerging field of narrative medicine reveals its origins in “literature and medicine, the so called medical humanities, primary care, relation-centered care, patient-centered care, and biopsychosocial medicine” (p. 24). Thus, the goal of narrative medicine, of psychoanalysis, and of creative teaching as poised in this volume is the fine-tuned equilibrium of involvement and detachment. What is unique to this book as illustrated in the introduction by co-editor Peter Rudnytsky is the interweaving of psychoanalysis into the biographical fabric of the dyadic integration of literature and medicine.

A collection of vibrantly inspired research scholars is brought together in Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine, representing professors of literature and humanities, including psychoanalysts, physicians of varying disciplines, and their patients in the mutual quest of eradicating the “undue simplemindedness of biomedicine” (p. 25). Through the echoing voice of co-editor Rita Charon, this collection eloquently illustrates through heartfelt case examples that “sick people are being abandoned left and right, not because their doctors do not recognize their molecules but because they cannot apprehend their narratives,” further, if the narrative is taken out of medicine, very little is left.

This volume escorts the reader through four sections, categorized as contextualizing narrative medicine, psychoanalytic interventions, the patient's voice, and acts of reading. The framework of psychoanalysis sets the stage for playful narratives and vignettes spanning the arenas of the emergency room, the consulting room, and the classroom.

In the first chapter, co-editor Rita Charon defines the relationship between psychoanalysis and narrative medicine, both as forms of talking cure, resting on shared beliefs of well-being, and the nature of health. Both respect the intersubjective magnitude of healing relationships. The author alludes to the premise that narrative medicine is just a synonym for psychoanalysis (p. 27).

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