‘Stress narratives’: The November TCRU – CNR postgradate seminar

Stress Narratives

Tuesday 3rd November 2015

5 – 6.30pm

The Library, Thomas Coram Research Unit, 27 – 28 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA


In this presentation and narrative analysis, Sharmini Chaytor considers the way people with Multiple Sclerosis (PwMS) and medical professionals discuss and interact with one another specifically about stress, which precedes relapses (Ackerman et al, 2002; Mohr et al., 2004; 2012; Buljevak et al., 2003; Burns et al., 2013) on a blog dedicated to MS research. How might these interactions affect the way PwMS approach stress?

She brings to the fore firstly dominant biomedical discourses and secondly marginalised discourses about emotional phenomena, showing how both positions associate stress with MS, from psychosocial perspectives. She then discusses ethical implications of researching blogs, which are regarded as ‘a potential avenue for exploring patient opinion about MS treatments,’ (Ramagopalan, Wasiak and Cox, 2014). She outlines her dualist methodological process of using a narrative thematic approach (Riessman, 2008; Squire, 2013) and a narrative positioning approach (Murray, 2000), which grounds the material in ‘multiple narrative truths,’ (Freeman, 2003 from Squire, 2013; Frank, 2010).

Her consequent findings of the apparent marginalisation of abundant stress narratives in favour of ‘biocitizenship’ as a result of increasing specialisation, which fosters treatment of disease not the patient, because stress is difficult to measure, are discussed more fully. Does the position society takes towards stress detrimentally affect self-care of PwMS? Might more explicit acknowledgement about the potential impact of stress on MS, present possibility and hope in the here-and-now for PwMS? Should extensive qualitativeresearch on the relationship between stress and MS in particular the way it is talked about, be supported given apparent limitations around measurability?


Sharmini Chaytor is a psychotherapist in the voluntary sector currently undertaking an MA in Psychosocial Studies at University of East London. She is interested in this interdisciplinary area of research that brings together natural science, philosophy and psychosocial disciplines because a family member has had MS for many years. Her current research interests in relation to MS are in stress, empathy and carers’ narratives.

For further details contact Corinne Squire (c.squire@uel.ac.uk)

Details are also on the CNR website http://www.uel.ac.uk/cnr/home.htm



Published by corinnesquire

Corinne Squire is Professor of Social Sciences and Co-Director, Centre for Narrative Research, at University of East London

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