The patient as reader

The uses of intertexts in two Swedish pathographies

  • Katarina Bernhardsson


Illness narratives can be said to reclaim the voice of the patient, and while they draw much of their strength from a position of experience and loss, they are also highly mediated and constructed narratives. This article studies, how these textual self-representations are formed in relation to intertexts, and how the authors explicitly use other literary texts and enter into a dialogue with them.

Two pathographies are studied, Anders Paulrud’s Fjärilen i min hjärna (“The Butterfly in my Brain”, 2008) and Agneta Klingspor’s Stängt pga hälsosjäl (“Closed due to health reasons”, 2010, and their specific strategies in incorporating other literary texts: Paulrud through assemblage and community, and Klingspor through resistance and critique, especially of narratives the author feels she is supposed to appreciate. In the end, both authors seem to share a view about literature as potentially helpful and meaningful in conveying experiences and even point to a healing potential in narratives and literature.

Bernhardsson, K. (2019). The patient as reader. Tidsskrift for Forskning I Sygdom Og Samfund, 16(31).