Storytelling as inquiry in a mental hospital

Tineke A. Abma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


People give meaning to chaotic experiences and try to persuade others of their perspectives by telling stories. In the process of meaning making, some stories gain and maintain the status of a standard story. When people no longer recognize themselves in the standard story, it loses credibility and a different story is needed to endow their lives and practices with meaning. A narrative inquiry of a vocational rehabilitation project in a mental hospital shows that inherited stories sustained the therapists' professional practice but prevented a successful rehabilitation of patients. Several therapists were willing to place this standard story between brackets and to listen to other unheard stories told by patients who participated in the project. These marginalized stories did not replace the standard story but enriched it. New plot lines were woven into the existing story and constituted changes in professional practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-838
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998

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