What seems to be the trouble? Stories in illness and healthcare

Is illness a problem to be solved or a story to be told? Professor Trisha Greenhalgh offers a new perspective on medicine.


Published: 28/06/2006

ISBN: 184619122X

In a new book, What seems to be the trouble?: Stories in illness and healthcare, Professor Trisha Greenhalgh reclaims the study of narrative as core to the practice of medicine. Every illness is a story - with characters, plot, suspense, surprise, and a happy, sad or ironic ending. It can take different genres - adventure, tragedy, quest or comedy - and can be more or less coherent in its unfolding.

The role of the doctor as witness to the tale is integral to his or her role as diagnostician and healer. Greenhalgh draws upon the work of philosophers and literary scholars including Aristotle, Mikhail Bakhtin, Martha Nussbaum and Alasdair MacIntyre to argue that the sick patient is not a broken machine that must be fixed but a text that must be read and interpreted.

Suggested citation

Greenhalgh T (2006) What seems to be the trouble? Stories in illness and healthcare. Nuffield Trust.