To tell the right story : Functions of the personal user narrative in service user involvement

Erik Eriksson


From the starting point of narrative ethnography, this article explores a specific kind of service user involvement in psychiatry: staff training activities in which patients and former patients are invited to “tell their stories”. A core feature of these stories is that they are based on the narrators’ self-perceived experience, and they all have a highly personal character. I call these stories service user narratives, and these are the topic of study in this article. The narratives’ disposition, content and functions are explored, as is the role played by the personal aspects of the stories. This article investigates two functions of the service user narrative: the narrative as a means (1) of creating alternative images of mental ill health, and (2) of enabling a critique of psychiatry.

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JCSW was founded in 2006 and is currently hosted by University of Stavanger, in cooperation with University of Agder and Nord University. From 2010 onwards it is published bi-anually.

ISSN: 0809-9936