Illness Narratives: The Carer Memoir


  • Linda Boulton


Illness narratives share the private experience of serious illness with fellow patients, their families, the wider community and healthcare professionals. The carer memoir presents the illness experience from the carer’s perspective, a highly subjective and often emotionally fraught standpoint. Yet, in order to write the illness memoir, the author must assess potential material from an objective point of view. This paper reflects the interplay between the personal and the critical as I juxtapose an excerpt from my own illness memoir with scholarly research into the genre of illness narratives. I present my personal experience as my husband’s carer and marry this with a discussion that addresses the relationship between carer and patient, the ethical dimension of writing about a sick loved one, and the importance of carer memoirs as an educational resource. I examine the psychological and cultural benefits of writing and reading illness narratives. A brief analysis of narrative form and language usage illustrates particular limitations and possibilities of the writing process. An investigation of the two strands, creative (subjective) and critical (objective), not only contributes to our understanding and knowledge of the genre of illness narratives but also highlights the power and value of these intensely personal stories.


How to Cite

Boulton, L. (2015). Illness Narratives: The Carer Memoir. Humanity. Retrieved from