Hiram College

Whose Tale, Who Tells It, and To Whom Do We Tell it? Ethics, Power, and Ignorance in Health Care Narratives

We know narratives occur in literature and poetry. But each health promotion campaign, each case description (clinical or ethical), each medical record, and each end-of-shift oral is also a narrative.

In both health humanities and health care, we often lose sight of the ethical work that goes into our narratives. All narrative is only partial truth: choices must be made about what is told, about whom, to whom. Partial truths can be as misleading as lies, or they can reveal a part of the world we’ve not paid enough attention to before and center voices that have too long been marginalized. What is the purpose of health care narratives? Whose stories are told? Who is telling them? Whose world is reflected in the world-building we do?

We will explore these and other questions through readings, discussion of the Trans Health Ethics Project as a fundamentally narrative ethics project, and workshop participant contributions.

Alison ReiheldAlison Reiheld, PhD is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Dr. Reiheld’s work in bioethics is frequently interdisciplinary, drawing on the sciences and social sciences as well as on philosophical and sociological tools. She came to bioethics from bioscience, with a B.A. in Biology and Ph.D. in Philosophy. Dr. Reiheld’s research areas include transgender folks’ access to health care, fat folks’ access to health care, and the way that women and minorities are treated when it comes to their testimony about pain. Her publications span a variety of topics considering how power and vulnerability operate in health care, including miscarriage, food ethics, civility, medicalization, and anti-obesity public health campaigns. From 2015 to 2019, Dr. Reiheld was the Director of Women’s Studies at SIUE. She is also Blog Editor of the scholarly blog of International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics