From 1987 all patients referred by family physicians to the Arahura Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand, for consultation with Brian Broom, were assessed from both conventional medical and STORY perspectives.
Taking this combined approach it became clear that many physical diseases seemed to have developed at very meaningful times of people’s lives. “Meanings” seemed very important.
In those cases where ordinary medicine was not helping these meanings were explored--often resulting in marked reduction or disappearance of symptoms.
There are often profound connections between patients’ stories (perceptions of their life-events and experience) and the development of illness in both organic and non-organic illnesses.
Patients’ ordinary language reveals rich information with regard to the meaning of illness.
The doctor, clinician, or therapist must be very attuned to particular events and patient experience around the times when symptoms begin or recur.
The health-worker’s model of personhood and disease plays a crucial part in allowing or not allowing ‘story’ to be relevant to the suffering person’s problems.
A combination of orthodox biomedical approaches and a “story approach” offers great potential benefits to many patients with physical health problems.