The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1146: Why You Should Share Your Stories

Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen describes how you can find the stories that will help you heal. There can be wisdom in the stories of ordinary lives.
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Why You Should Share Your Stories

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Facts are essential for scientific understanding. Stories are critical for wisdom, understanding the arc and meaning of our lives. Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, author of two wonderful books about stories, describes how some stories can diminish us and our view of ourselves. Others give us strength and hope. Stories can reveal deep meaning in our ordinary lives and relationships. How can we change a story that is not serving us well?

Changing Our Stories:

Dr. Remen relates how her own story changed after a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. Instead of being an invalid destined for an early death, she became a race car driver with her mother’s help. She looks back now on a life story radically different from the severely restricted life the doctors said would be hers at the age of fifteen. As it turns out, you can’t know your own story until you have lived it.

Counting Our Blessings:

As Dr. Remen notes, sometimes a blessing doesn’t look like one when it arrives. It may instead look like an obstacle, a challenge or a disappointment. Only in hindsight can we see how it may have contributed to our resilience or our coping ability. We may also have an impact on someone else’s story without even realizing it. Dr. Remen believes we have all blessed many more people than we realize.

Finding Patience:

When a serious medical problem arises, we may need more patience than we expect to be able to get to the bottom of it. But with patience, it will be revealed. We also hear from Dr. Remen about her work with Commonweal Cancer Help Program and the role of stories in healing, even when the condition cannot be cured.

This Week’s Guest:

Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen is Founder and Founding Director of The Remen Institute for the Study of Health and Illness (RISHI) at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio.

Dr. Remen is also Professor of Family Medicine at the Boonshoft School of Medicine and Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at UCSF School of Medicine in San Francisco, California.

Dr. Remen’s best-selling books of stories, Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal and My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge and Belonging have been translated into 23 languages and have sold over a million copies. Since 1991, her course for medical students, The Healer’s Art, has been taught in more than a hundred medical schools and completed by more than 21,000 medical students both here and abroad.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I would love to “read” this program since, because of hearing problems, I cannot “hear” it. Is their a written record of the program I could access?

Dear Marywinne, we haven’t transcribed the shows because people who would like to read them want them for free. I’m sorry we don’t yet have a way to pay for the transcription.

I read both of Rachel Naomi Remen’s KITCHEN TABLE WISDOM and MY GRANDFATHER’S BLESSINGS soon after they were published. I have gone back to them many times over the years. My daughter has borrowed them. I recently mentioned to a friend that I had been reading a story out of one of these books by Dr. Rachel Remen each night at bedtime as a meditation. My friend said, “Oh! I’ve been doing the same thing!”

Dr. Remen told the story of the stranger on the street that spoke up to a husband who was verbally abusing his wife and how the stranger made such a strong impact on the women’s life. I felt such a sense of relief and peace to hear that story because I too spoke up to a stranger who was verbally abusing his wife and have thought since the incident perhaps I should have used control and not have interfered. Now I feel I definitely did the right thing.Thank you Dr. Remen, your interview has strongly impacted me and I look forward to reading your books.

Another facinating guest. Dr. Remen confirms to me that each day is a gift and we need to engage with the world around us. I’m looking forward to reading her books.

Dr Rachel, how wonderful to hear your beautiful voice this morning on PP!
Two Remen books right now on my kitchen table to be
given as Christmas gifts💖💖 Thank you for your generous and
ever so helpful words. I love you.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^