Risk, Suffering and Competing Narratives in the Psychiatric Assessment of an Iraqi Refugee Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper highlights the problem of "place" for an Iraqi refugee who, for years, had been tortured and imprisoned in his home country. Specifically, the paper presents a case study of a clinical encounter with this refugee, who had come to the attention of an Australian Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team. Drawing from narrative theory, the paper describes the chaotic nature of the encounter to show how the diverse motives, claims and actions of those present expose the struggle involved in the emplotment of an emerging narrative. The case study is constructed and analysed to illustrate the interpretive machinery of "clinical reasoning" and, in particular, the tension and play between "paradigmatic thinking" and "narrative thinking." More generally, this analysis follows the work of social scientists who seek to expand methodologies for writing about human suffering.

publication date

  • March 2008