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Reanimating the Body: Comics Creation as an Embodiment of Life with Cancer.

Authors
  • McMullin, Juliet1
  • Rushing, Sharon2
  • Sueyoshi, Mark3
  • Salman, Jaroslava4
  • 1 Department of Anthropology, University of California Riverside, 900 University Ave, Riverside, CA, 92521, USA. [email protected]
  • 2 Department of Anthropology, University of California Riverside, 900 University Ave, Riverside, CA, 92521, USA.
  • 3 Radiation Oncology, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.
  • 4 Supportive Care Medicine Duarte, City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Culture Medicine and Psychiatry
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Jan 05, 2021
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11013-020-09703-4
PMID: 33403497
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Cancer is regarded as a disease that redefines an individual's life and relationships. The medicalization and reclamation of the individual's sense of body, self, and social life have been long examined by psychiatry and anthropology alike. We argue that creating comics is a form of artistic narrative that affirms and proclaims the existence of a past and future possibilities for individuals diagnosed with cancer. Despite the interconnections among lived experience and meaning making, little attention has been paid to the potential therapeutic effects of comics creation. Individuals diagnosed with cancer were recruited for ten weekly comics making workshops. Data include qualitative interviews and workshop observations. Six women who were diagnosed with cancer consented to participate. Meaning making themes included (1) slowing down to process their experiences, (2) expressing frustration with medical encounters, and (3) reflecting on traumatic relationships. The process of redefining their cancer experience connects the sufferer's individual and social context. We find that the physical act of 'making' comics works to create meaning and an embodied expression of meaning. Creating comics, for our participants, offered multiple entry points and perspectives for redefining their stories that provided new insights and paths to explore their medical traumas and reanimating their bodies.

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