To tell the right story
Functions of the personal user narrative in service user involvement
Keywords:Narrative, service user narrative, user narrative, function, service user involvement, user involvement, counter-narrative, power
From the starting point of narrative ethnography, this article explores a specific kind of service user involvement in psychiatry: staff training activities in which patients and former patients are invited to “tell their stories”. A core feature of these stories is that they are based on the narrators’ self-perceived experience, and they all have a highly personal character. I call these stories service user narratives, and these are the topic of study in this article. The narratives’ disposition, content and functions are explored, as is the role played by the personal aspects of the stories. This article investigates two functions of the service user narrative: the narrative as a means (1) of creating alternative images of mental ill health, and (2) of enabling a critique of psychiatry.
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