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Medical Writings |

Narrative Medicine: Form, Function, and Ethics

Rita Charon, MD, PhD
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College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University; New York, NY 10032 (Charon)

Requests for Single Reprints: Rita Charon, MD, PhD, Division of General Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, PH 9-East, Room 105, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032; e-mail, rac5@columbia.edu.

Ann Intern Med. 2001;134(1):83-87. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-134-1-200101020-00024
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Sickness and healing are, in part, narrative acts. Patients write about their illnesses with increasing frequency, which suggests that finding the words to contain the chaos of illness enables the sufferer to endure it better (13). We physicians, too, write more and more frequently about ourselves and our practices (45). In many forms of narrative writing, doctors are endorsing the hypothesis that writing about oneself and one's patients confers on medical practice a kind of understanding that is otherwise unobtainable (6).

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