An illness narrative or a social injustice narrative?

Maya Lavie Ajayi, Ora Nakash

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter discusses the difficulty faced by therapists when, instead of a story of emotional problems, they are presented in the course of a professional consultation with a narrative about social injustice. The chapter includes a detailed analysis of a single intake session and subsequent post-intake interviews, taken from a large study on intakes in mental health clinics with culturally diverse populations in Israel. The client–subject of this chapter presented herself to a mental health facility, claiming a state of crisis due to the downgrading of her employment status, which she attributed to systematic corporate injustice. During the intake interview, there were a number of disagreements between the client and the therapist. While the client sought to relate a narrative of injustice, the therapist insisted on identifying an illness narrative. This chapter argues that the battle of narratives is a political battle, and highlights the political power wielded by therapists in defining diagnoses and treatment recommendations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIllness Narratives in Practice
Subtitle of host publicationPotentials and Challenges of Using Narratives in Health-related Contexts
EditorsChristine Holmberg, Thorsten Meyer, Gabriele Lucius-Hoene
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191844225
ISBN (Print) 9780198806660
StatePublished - Oct 2018


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