Stories Help Us

I heard a quote this week at a conference:

If you don’t give me data,  I won’t believe you.   

If you don’t tell me stories, I won’t remember.

I’m in the midst of writing a memoir about my nurse leader career.  And it’s the stories as I look back that are showing me what I really experienced and what I think and feel now.

Patients often explain their symptoms in stories.

“Stories- that’s how people make sense of what’s happening to them when they get sick.  They tell stories about themselves. Our ability as doctors to treat and heal is bound up in our ability to accurately perceive a patient’s story.  If you can’t do that, you’re working with one hand tied behind your back.”        – Dr Howard Brody, family practice physician.     Pink, 2005, p.112.

“Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories.”          – Roger C Schank, cognitive scientist.       Pink, 2005, p.102.

“The story—from Rumplestiltskin to War and Peace—is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind for the purpose of understanding.  There have been societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”     – Ursula Guin. Pink, 2005, p.105

“If stories come to you, care for them.  And learn to give them away where they are needed.  Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.”      – Barry Lopez, author of Arctic Dreams.         Pink, 2005, p.114

Daniel Pink explains in his book, A Whole New Mind,  that we are in the Conceptual Age and thus we have to see things differently, more Whole, which is how we as nurses were educated to do and see.

As society shifts in our wellness consciousness,

 our perception of illness and suffering also shift.

Our stories reflect meaning, desires, healing. 


Pink DH. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. New York: Riverhead Books; 2006
image courtesy of mariya-georgieva

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