Research shows that the mind-body connection is real. If it weren’t the placebo effect wouldn’t be a clinical method of proving new pharmaceutical treatments. While something all physicians acknowledge to some extent, some practitioners are embracing narrative medicine to promote healing.
What Is Narrative Medicine?
The definition is as follows: the competence to recognize, absorb, metabolize, interpret, and be moved by the stories of illness. But what does that mean? It is to empower the patient and improve their healthcare by allowing their story, not just their symptoms or health conditions, to contribute to their healing.
How Does It Work?
Instead of or in addition to filling out the standard healthcare questionnaire, patients talk or write about their life and health. This differs from talk therapy as the goal is to hear what experiences create their individual narrative, which often manifest in physical illness. For example, if a patient’s father and sister pass away in one year it is not uncommon for health conditions to arise—beyond depression.
This approach empowers patients to participate in their healthcare and express their fears and concerns. Oftentimes just the process of feeling and being heard instead of being told what to do can improve a patient’s health.
It’s proven that the way we think and feel, and even what we eat can change our individual cells—in both negative and positive ways. By working with a physician trained in narrative medicine a healing relationship is built, one of mutual trust and respect.