This paper presents a critical interpretive synthesis of 53 articles describing the pedagogical use of madness/‘mental illness’ autobiographical narratives in postsecondary education. Focusing on instructor intentions and representations of student learning outcomes, findings indicate that narratives are most commonly used as ‘learning material’ to engage students in active learning, cultivate students’ empathy, complement dominant academic/professional knowledges, illustrate abstract concepts and provide ‘real’-life connections to course content. This paper contributes to a conversation across the intellectual traditions of Mad studies, medical humanities, educational research, stigma reduction and service user involvement to interrogate pedagogical uses of autobiographical narratives that remain in uncritical educational terms rather than as a matter of justice for Mad communities. While teaching with narratives will not inevitably result in social justice outcomes, thoughtful engagement with the ethical and epistemological considerations raised throughout this review may increase this possibility by shifting when, why and how we teach with autobiography.
- medical humanities
- patient narratives
- mental health care
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Presented at Early ideas that developed into this paper were initially presented at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 2019 Conference.
Contributors This paper was fully researched and written by the author.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement See online supplemental file 1.
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