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The narrative in neurology and psychiatry

Sachdev, Permindera,b

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: May 2011 - Volume 24 - Issue 3 - p 215–218
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e3283444a6e
Neuropsychiatry: Edited by Perminder Sachdev

Purpose of review The narrative has a long tradition in psychiatry and neurology. Its functions have evolved more recently from classical description and clinical education to healing and remediation, and there has been an explosion of literature on narratives by sufferers of individuals with brain disorders.

Recent findings The narrative has many functions in neurology, psychiatry and neuropsychiatry. These disciplines began due to powerful clinical narratives, and the clinical description continues to draw upon the power of the patients' stories. The narrative has also emerged as an important tool to educate the public about brain disorders and normal brain function. It is increasingly being used by individuals with neuropsychiatric disorders to narrate their biographies, and healing remains an attempt to reconstruct broken narratives, both by physicians and by patients themselves. If the 20th century saw a psychologization of society, the neurological narrative now appears to be taking centre-stage.

Summary The narrative has had a powerful presence in the history of neurology and psychiatry and continues to shape the disciplines as we witness an increasing neurologization of society.

aSchool of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

bNeuropsychiatric Institute, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia

Correspondence to Professor Perminder Sachdev, MD, PhD, FRANZCP, NPI, Euroa Centre, Prince of Wales Hospital, Barker Street, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia Tel: +61 02 9382 3763; fax: +61 02 9382 3774; e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.