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Disrupted Lives: How People Create Meaning in a Chaotic World

Disrupted Lives: How People Create Meaning in a Chaotic World
Author: Gaylene Becker
ISBN 13: 9780520209145
ISBN 10: 520209141
Edition: Revised ed.
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 1999-09-01
Format: Paperback
Pages: 275
List Price: $31.95

"A fine account of experiences of suffering in everyday America understood as occasions for making meaning."—Arthur Kleinman, co-editor of Social Suffering

"An original and compassionate contribution to the study of human suffering. It describes how people try to make sense of lives disrupted, and often fragmented, by major crises: stroke, illness, migration, miscarriage or infertility. Her descriptions of the narratives and metaphors they use to try to restore the coherence of their world-view and relationships is both vivid and readable."—Cecil G. Helman, author of Culture, Health and Illness

"Using the methods and perspectives of cultural phenomenology, and narrative analysis, this powerful and moving work brings new meanings and understandings to the disruptions, personal distresses, and emotional crises that occur in daily life. Disruptions and chaos are part of the human condition. Gay Becker brilliantly shows how ordinary people address this fact of life."—Norman Denzin, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

"A remarkable, creative synthesis of up-to-the-minute theories of symbolic healing and narrative performance by one of contemporary medical anthropology's most prolific and sophisticated practitioners. Gay Becker presents many poignant and unforgettable cases from major ethnographic studies conducted by herself and her colleagues in the United States on topics including: adaptation to stroke, meanings of infertility, management of disruptions such as divorce in mid-life, transitions of the elderly to assisted living, and multi-ethnic experiences of illness in the health care system. Becker is a master of life history and life story methods. Her analyses are impeccably grounded in first-class ethnographic research to produce a mature and exciting work that will be read widely across many disciplines."—Gelya Frank, University of Southern California

"Though ours is an age of dislocation and uprootedness, the issue of how human beings negotiate the stony ground between past and present lives transcends historical and cultural boundaries.
In this illuminating and far-reaching study of disrupted lives, Gay Becker explores in a variety of critical contemporary settings the interplay between what people suffer and what they make of their suffering. Giving voice to the people with whom she worked, and sensitive to the embodied and dialogic dimensions of human agency, Becker shows how people variously deploy cultural resources such as metaphor and narrative to cope with adversity, recover a semblance of order and continuity, and actively regain a sense of self-determination."—Michael Jackson, University of Sydney

Journal of the American Medical Association

What makes this book most interesting is that it highlights just how important culture is in influencing the process of retrieving meaning after disruption. While we all search for continuity in life, it is, in reality, an illusion, but one that allows us to have security in a disruptive world. As cultural norms clearly affect how an individual adjusts and deals with disruption, this book provides numerous insights into these factors and represents an informative text for health professionals who deal with health and illness in cultural terms.