Narrative Identities and the management of personal accountability in Talk about ME: A discursive approach to illness narrative.
Journal of Health Psychology, 6(2),
This article takes a discursive psychology approach to the analysis of illness narrative. The controversial topic of ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), otherwise known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), is used as a case study to examine the dilemmatics of illness talk. Using data from an ME narrative, I explore the complex and subtle discursive work performed by participants to show how attributional stories and identity formulations are linked together in a narrative that works to construct ME as a physical disease while countering potential accusations of malingering or psychological vulnerability. In working to counter such explanations, sufferers paradoxically implicate themselves in an interpretation of their illness as self-inflicted through overwork and mismanagement. In previous research, tales of frenetic lifestyles prior to the onset of ME have provided analysts (and journalists) with grounds for constructing theit own attributional stories in the form of 'opt-out' or 'burn-out' theories of ME/CFS. An ethnomethodologically informed discursive psychology provides a non-cognitivist approach to analysis which looks in detail at how sufferers themselves make sense of ME as a practical activity and how their identities are constructed as part of that process.
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