Examining illness narratives in chronic fatigue and immune deficiency syndrome : a mindbody perspective

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

A semi-structured interview was used to obtain illness narrative data from 10 Chronic Fatigue and Immune Deficiency Syndrom (CFIDS) patients. A qualitative narrative analysis was completed and the findings were discussed in relation to the patients' subjective understanding of the illness process. This was related to current CFIDS research findings, and more especially to the four theoretical paradigms that underpin this research - namely, Medical Illness Model, Lifeworld Illness Model, Mindbody Medicine, and Psychodynamic Theory. Each one of these illness theories highlighted an aspect of the healing influence on CFIDS patients' illness course and meaning. The analysis confirms the importance of all these healing influences. Thus it was concluded that the medical treatment, arising from the Cartesian dualistic understanding of mind and body, proved inadequate on its own as an effective intervention to bring release from CFIDS symptoms and enable the patients to engage a new meaningful life-process. The four paradigms together represent the mindbody reality and indicate the importance of patients receiving interventions at all levels of their lived experience. This intervention approach was shown to be most effective. It is therefore suggested that the Health System work towards such collaborative, integrated health care for chronically ill sufferers.

Bibliography: leaves 147-161.