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 write
      a 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



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