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Medical Narrative & Autopathography Resources


Medical narrative, or the stories we tell about illness, caregiving, disability, recovery and death, is one of my special interests. I believe stories about illness can be healing, both for the storyteller, the audience, and even the medical community, especially when illness, medical treatment, and even the medical system itself can so easily render us voiceless.  

 I have been writing within this sub-genre for a long time, without knowing I was doing it, and have been reading medical narratives since I was a young girl. I have written several medical narratives, and a few short stories that dabble in medical/psychological themes. 

Here is a list:

  • "Migraine ft. The Migraine" is an essay about migraine attacks written while in the middle of one. Forthcoming in Raritan, 2023.

  • "Four Animals," an essay on living with Sjogren's Syndrome. Published in Blood and Thunder, and later in Mothers of Sparta

  • "Mothers of Sparta" the essay, first published in Arts & Letters, and later in Mothers of Sparta.

  • "Kicking the Snakes," an essay on anxiety and pain, first published in New Plains Review, and later published in Mothers of Sparta.

  • "Keeping the Faith," an essay that describes living with OCD without naming it, first published in Chautauqua Magazine in 2016, and later in Mothers of Sparta.

  • "Fear of Falling," an essay chronicling postpartum OCD, first published in HerStories Anthology, 2015, and later in Mothers of Sparta. 

  • "Arrhythmia," an essay about recovering from emergency heart surgery, published in The Missouri Review in 2018.

  • "Music to Be Played If I Fall into a Coma," an essay on music and facing death, published in issue #56 of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, 2019.

  • "Angels in the Architecture," a short story about facing death, published in Cleaver Magazine in 2019.

  • "Something Merciful," a short story featuring a narrator with mental illness, published in Southern Gothic Revival Anthology in 2016.

The first medical memoir I read was The Other Side of the Mountain, by Jill Kinmont. As I did with most medical books, I read it far too young, and was profoundly affected (affected = terrified) by her story. 

I credit this book with my subsequent obsession with medical narrative, as I continued to look for stories about health and medicine to help make sense of my own (at the time) undiagnosed ODC,  which had a pronounced somatic/medical component as early as elementary school.

Now I am interested in contemporary narratology, that is,  the ways narrative and narrative structure affect our perception about how we deal with our bodies, illness, disability, and how we, either in sickness or in health, relate to others, who may be in various states of sickness or health themselves.`

I'm happy to share what I have learned, and am continuing to learn, about the genre. This page will cover the basics. Stay tuned as I expand  this page by collecting more resources for everyone to use.

To begin, here is a list of resources for those interested in reading more about medical narrative/narrative medicine or submitting your own medical narratives to journals.

Literary Journals that focus on medical narrative:

If you like graphic narrative, and want some medical narratives in graphic form,

check out the Graphic Medicine website here.  More coming on this. There are some wonderful graphic stories out there.

New York University database of medical literary works. You can search by subject, form, and other factors.

Check it out here.


Stay tuned for texts and other books I like, but if you want to get started reading about narrative medicine, give Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness, by Rita Charon. You can take a look at what Rita is up to here .

Questions I am thinking about:

How does one's voice change when illness hits and reality becomes something new and unexpected?

How do we tell stories about chronic illness without sounding melodramatic?

How do we write about caring for someone else who is ill? Whose story does that become?

I hope this is helpful and interesting. The web page will grow. That's all for now. Peace to you.

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