Telling It Like It is: Diagnostic Narratives and Power

Diagnosis is, in itself, a story.  It links together a set of phenomena, in a usually linear manner; it generates an explanation, a plot line, and a denouement, in which a knotted bundle of threads gets untangled.  It is a trope, or a motif, very prevalent in popular culture: the sombre newspaper report about a celebrity learning about an unexpected cancer, a book in which the protagonist must wrestle with the knowledge of his newly-announced disease, a film in which the main character watches her life wind down after learning she has an early-onset dementia.  The stories of diagnosis are told in a particular tone, with an expectation of a particular kind of outcome.  In this presentation, and via numerous media, Professor Jutel will reveal the stories triggered by diagnosis, and consider the way they shape our social, and individual, thinking about a moment diagnosis and its transformative potential.  She will expose the narrative nature of diagnosis and reveal how its discursive construction as “truth” instils it with various forms of power:  transformative, authoritative and clinical.