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Tid och existentiellt meningsskapande: Kvinnors berättelser om sitt liv med allvarlig sjukdom
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2010 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Time and existential meaning-making : Women’s narratives about living with serious illness (English)
Abstract [en]

Being affected by a serious or life-threatening illness implies an existentially changed situation that is accompanied by a number of questions about the illness itself, consequences of the illness in an everyday context and implications for the future. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine people’s meaning-making when they are affected by a serious illness and to determine how the illness acquires meaning in the context of their lives. The dissertation thus deals with what can be referred to as existential meaning-making. A hermeneutical approach was adopted, drawing more specifically on Paul Ricoeur’s narrative theory that emphasises the importance of different dimensions of time and memory in the understanding of narratives.

An empirical study was carried out of illness narratives collected in research interviews with six women who had been diagnosed with serious illnesses, such as cancer, stroke and heart attack. The analysis reveals that the discovery of the illness and the period following was characterized by chaos and a lack of time perspective, feelings of lack of freedom and thoughts about death, but also feelings of responsibility towards the family. Experiences of the health services were also important in accounts of this early period, particularly wishes for more empathic encounters with the professionals. In the women’s accounts of the long term living with the illness, death continues to emerge as a back drop to their everyday experiences of the illness, but gradually more as confronting the problem of death rather than giving up life. Over time, relationships to significant others and the importance of everyday life also constitute increasingly important themes. In their expectations for the future, the women account for some experiences that have been important in creating a sense of hope and heightened vitality, and thus a new ‘wholeness’, such as being close to nature as well as their religious or spiritual experiences. These results are discussed in terms of how memories of significant events or places play an important role in existential meaning-making, and also how reflections on these memories can be seen as a process of existential ‘learning’.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Pedagogiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet , 2010. , 225 p.
Doktorsavhandlingar från Pedagogiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, ISSN 1104-1625 ; 169
Keyword [en]
serious illness, women, meaning-making, narrative, narrative time, hermeneutics, existential learning
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-42328ISBN: 978-91-7447-108-3OAI: diva2:345257
Public defence
2010-09-29, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2010-09-07 Created: 2010-08-24 Last updated: 2010-11-01Bibliographically approved

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