chapter  5
12 Pages

VOICE IN THE MEDICAL NARRATIVE

BySuzanne Poirier

Literary terms that describe the elements and functions of stories are deceptively simple. As the other chapters in this section demonstrate, concepts seemingly as straightforward as plot, character, or context encompass a variety of choices on the part of the author and an equal variety of consequences for the reader. Voice is no exception. In the pages that follow, I examine the ways that three different literary scholars have discussed voice and consider how their ideas can illuminate the way physicians tell stories to themselves and to other health professionals. Finally, I demonstrate how the limitations of medicine’s narrative voice can, in turn, limit discussion of the ethical and human dimensions of medical care.