“This is not rocket science. This is not quantum physics. If you are the writer of the story, you know what you want the audience to see because you’ve written it. It’s just story telling and you tell it”, Woody Allen.
We are all writers of our own story. When it comes to telling that story to a health professional, the patient tries to illustrate his or her experience using their own language and metaphors. Creating an environment for this to happen is vital. The patient should feel that they are free to express themselves, choosing words that have real meaning to them. Only through the frank telling of a story can the professional have an insight into the patient’s world that is a blend of their genetic make-up and experiences to date (epigenetics). At the end of the first meeting, the patient should be able to say to themselves, “He or she has seen my story through their mind’s eye”.
A master story teller, Woody Allen maintains that he keeps it simple. He knows the story because he wrote the tale, and hence he can create a vision for the audience to see so that they may share the experience. As we experience a film in a multisensory way, the same can occur when a story is verbalised. Some people will even experience the symptoms of another when they are described, or at least be aware of their own body in the locations being described due to attentional bias, perhaps as a function of mirror neurons. Certainly some patients whom I see will respond to my gestures and movements with pain or aversion, for example an individual with back pain winces on watching me bend forwards.
Allowing a patient to fully describe their experience by the narrative is the start point. This creates the foundation of trust and validation of very real, multidimensional and multisensory expressions of the neuroimmune system via the body. There is a wealth of information packed into a detailed narrative that directs the sensorimotor examination and subsequent treatment and training programme. As Woody Allen says, this is not “rocket science”. Story telling is a natural process that underpins the passing of information, often from generation to generation (cultural memes) to create a strong image in the listener’s mind. Such a potent tool that is part of being a human, we must embrace this in healthcare as a way of cultivating compassionate care.
Please visit our clinic website: Specialist Pain Physio Clinics for details about our treatment and training programmes for chronic and complex pain
t. 07932 689081