Psychiatry has lagged behind many clinical specialties in recognizing the importance of narrative for understanding and effectively treating disease. With this book, Bradley Lewis makes the challenging and compelling case that psychiatrists need to promote the significance of narrative in their practice as well.
Narrative already holds a prominent place in psychiatry. Patient stories are the foundation for diagnosis and the key to managing treatment and measuring its effectiveness. Even so, psychiatry has paid scant scholarly attention to the intrinsic value of patient stories. Fortunately, the study of narrative outside psychiatry has grown exponentially in recent years, and it is now possible for psychiatry to make considerable advances in its appreciation of clinical stories. Narrative Psychiatry picks up this intellectual opportunity and develops the tools of narrative for psychiatry. Lewis explores the rise of narrative medicine and looks closely at recent narrative approaches to psychotherapy. He uses philosophic and fictional writings, such as Anton Chekhov's play Ivanov, to develop key terms in narrative theory (plot, metaphor, character, point of view) and to understand the interpretive dimensions of clinical work. Finally, Lewis brings this material back to psychiatric practice, showing how narrative insights can be applied in psychiatric treatments—including the use of psychiatric medications.
Nothing short of a call to rework the psychiatric profession, Narrative Psychiatry advocates taking the inherently narrative-centered patient-psychiatrist relationship to its logical conclusion: making the story a central aspect of treatment.
"Lewis has captured and articulated a method of working with patients that is at once intuitive to seasoned practitioners, while also directing them to novel areas of thinking about and working with patients."—John Z. Sadler, M.D., author of Values and Psychiatric Diagnosis
"This fascinating book throws new light on the potential of psychiatry to help patients navigate today's complex world. Lewis offers practical and effective ways to incorporate therapies that—while not denying the merits of pharmaceutical remedies—can draw on the immense benefits of helping patients build narrative accounts of their lives."—Emily Martin, Ph.D., author of Bipolar Expeditions
"Lewis achieves a dazzling unity of the sciences, the stories, and the craft of the human search not only for health but for meaning. What a doctor he must be, to face the suffering, to recognize the one who suffers, to bring to bear on that suffering a bounty of knowledge within a wealth of frames. This book not only opens doors for a discipline; it speaks to all of us of freedom."—Rita Charon, M.D., Ph.D., author of Narrative Medicine
Bradley Lewis, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor of medical humanities and cultural studies at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, with affiliated appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and the Center for Bioethics. He is an associate editor for the Journal of Medical Humanities and the author of Moving beyond Prozac, DSM, and the New Psychiatry.