Collected thoughts on narrative in occupational therapy documentation
About ten years or so ago I wrote about the potential power of using writing and hypertext as a qualitative methodology for understanding human narrative. I got that idea back in high school, actually, after reading the Langston Hughes poem, Theme for English B:
The instructor said,Go home and writea page tonight.And let that page come out of you—Then, it will be true.I wonder if it’s that simple?...
The poem is all about identity, and expression, and trying to understand point of view. I struggle with this concept of documentation as representation of life. Can documentation represent life, really? I think it can when I read Langston Hughes, but when I focus in on a short essays like in the Humans of New York series I can't read more than one or two of them.
I object to them, mostly, because when I read them I feel like someone is distilling a life into an evocative photo and 60 seconds worth of reading. It is just too neatly packaged. The impression that I believe the reader is supposed to be left with is one of a point of understanding. Instead, I am left with the idea that someone's life has just been Facebooked into farcical representation of actual reality.
I don't know if 'Facebooked' is an actual term. I just made it up.
What is worse, the distillation, or reading the distillation and believing that it is real?
I believe that people's lives are messy or complicated, full of commas and ellipses and misspellings and confusion and misplaced modifiers. How can we represent or understand reality in a tightly controlled text box read by a disconnected set of eyeballs?
I try not to be guilty of the same thing here, but it might be misconstrued because I also write clinical vignettes. When I write my stories here, I am not attempting to encapsulate the life of the people I am writing about. I am attempting to encapsulate how that intersection impacted me. It is selfish expression, to be certain. I try to use it for good though. The whole idea is to find ways to understand what I am trying to accomplish for other people.
The problem with my writing here now is that some ideas are spread out over a ten+ year span. I think there is a lot more to it than all this, but I wanted to collect some of the thought I had on this in one spot for future reference.
Writing as occupation
Destruction and deconstruction of occupational therapy documentation
The best way to discharge a patient