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Bibliotherapy: Books as medicine

“And so it was literature that brought me back to life...” – Paul Kalanithi

“Everybody is a story”, says the American physician and writer Rachel Naomi Remen. But illness interrupts a person’s story, robbing the sufferer of authorship and control, resulting in a distressing sense of immobility, incapacity and uncertainty. From this perspective, treatment of illness involves acknowledgement of the broken story, and recovery is a process of establishing a new coherent narrative.

In this presentation I introduce the concept of bibliotherapy and discuss the idea that narrative fiction – novels and short stories – offer therapeutic benefits for people facing illness.

Sue Wootton is a creative practice PhD candidate in the Department of English and Department of General Practice, researching literature’s unique ability to illuminate subjective lived experience. She is a writer (a novelist and poet), and a former physiotherapist whose background in rehabilitation therapy has given her a special interest in the importance of language in regaining ability and wellbeing, even within ongoing disability and illness. Sue co-edits the weekly Medical Humanities blog, ‘Corpus: Conversations about Medicine and Life’, found at

Date Thursday, 19 April 2018
Time 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Audience Public
Event Category Health Sciences
Event Type Seminar
DepartmentGeneral Practice and Rural Health (DSM)
LocationJan Breward Room, Dept of General Practice & Rural Health, 55 Hanover Street, Dunedin

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