Cite as: Sabine Arnaud, ‘Tension and Narrative: Autobiographies of Illness and Therapeutic Legitimacy in Eighteenth-Century French and English Medical Works ’, in Tension/​Spannung, ed. by Christoph F. E. Holzhey, Cultural Inquiry, 1 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2010), pp. 49–69 <https://doi.org/10.25620/ci-01_03>

Tension and NarrativeAutobiographies of Illness and Therapeutic Legitimacy in Eighteenth-Century French and English Medical Works Sabine Arnaud

Abstract

This article discusses the function of tension in autobiographies written by eighteenth-century doctors George Cheyne, Francis Fuller, Claude Revillon, and the Viscount de Puysegur. It studies how their rhetorical strategies stir tensions in readers through the narration of their own periods of infirmity and search for a remedy. The descriptions of their recoveries offer resolution, legitimate their medical practices, and help diffuse their works. Through the staging of these reversals, the authors suggest a shift in the way the role of medical doctors was perceived as well as a fundamental change in their relationship to illness.

autobiography, history of medicine, tension