Most people who are suddenly faced with a serious illness find themselves completely unprepared, and they do not know how to go on with their lives. The Wounded Storyteller by Arthur Frank is a book that uses the author’s personal experience with cancer and heart disease to show a different perspective on life and illness. The philosophy that Frank has developed in his work provides worthy lessons that help the ill to find hope and motivation and shows everybody how to approach life with more awareness.
When individuals experience impaired body functioning and need to hand themselves over to the expertise of medical specialists, they feel limited in control over their choices. It diminishes their lives and the sense of self and leads to apathy and feeling hopelessness. The importance of talking about experiences of people challenged with grave illness is the central theme of the book. The author suggests that learning from experiences of others can serve as both psychological support and guidance for the ill.
Moreover, the sense of ability to tell their own stories helps individuals to reclaim authority over their lives and construct a new narrative from their experience (Frank 25). Thus, by raising this issue, the author attempts to break the silence and encourage patients to share their experiences and reestablish themselves through acceptance of their situation and the creation of a narrative from the illness.
Chaos versus order is another important theme that Frank raises in the book. The author emphasizes the distractive effect that confusion has on a person’s life and ability to cope with difficulties, leading to desperation and loss of the sense of meaning. The scholar argues that narrative is the opposite of chaos and practice of contacting a personal story allows bringing order to life (Frank 15). Apart from providing those who are suffering from illness with a new source of resilience, the idea of fighting chaos by the creation of coherent narratives promotes consciousness among physically healthy individuals.
The lessons from The Wounded Storyteller help people with illnesses to discover new ways to lead a meaningful life. The book draws public attention to the problem of living with severe diseases and makes a substantial contribution to the discussion by providing a new perspective on the subject. The themes and questions that Frank discusses in his work are critical for developing awareness. Personally, I have realized that we should not avoid discussions about this subject and need to pay more attention to what people with difficult experiences have to say. Applying the lessons from the book will help me to increase resilience to potential challenges in the future by gaining consciousness and learning from real examples.
Frank, Arthur W. The wounded storyteller: Body, illness, and ethics. University of Chicago Press, 2013.