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Using illness narratives in clinical diagnosis: Narrative reconstruction of epileptic and non-epileptic seizures and panic attacks 

Using illness narratives in clinical diagnosis: Narrative reconstruction of epileptic and non-epileptic seizures and panic attacks
Chapter:
Using illness narratives in clinical diagnosis: Narrative reconstruction of epileptic and non-epileptic seizures and panic attacks
Author(s):

Elisabeth Gülich

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198806660.003.0017
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date: 13 April 2021

This chapter argues that illness narratives are a suitable instrument for differential diagnosis in practice. The study discussed is based on a corpus of doctor–patient interactions, i.e., encounters with patients suffering from epileptic or non-epileptic seizures and/or anxiety disorders, and for most of whom differential diagnosis is very difficult. The basic assumption put forward here is that the types of narrative can give clues to identify the types of seizures or attacks. The focus is on the ‘methods’ patients use in verbalizing the ‘auras’ preceding the seizures and the course of the seizures or attacks themselves. In particular, it pays attention to the procedures of resolving difficulties of verbalization, which occur during the production of the narrative. It demonstrates that preferences in the choice of narrative techniques allow a distinction between patients with epileptic seizures and patients with other types of fits or with panic attacks. Finally it suggests that knowledge of recurrent narrative patterns can help to recognize the syndrome presented, on condition that the doctor encourages narrative reconstructions and listens carefully.

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