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Friday, July 8 • 10:15 - 11:45
Session 1B: Bridging the Gap: Comics as Communication Tool

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The Super Lexicon for Alexithymia: Creating Bridges to Emotional Literacy through Superhero Narrative - Kathryn & Elizabeth Briggs

Patients who experience alexithymia, the inability to label and therefore effectively communicate emotions, present a unique challenge to health care professionals across all medical disciplines – from combat veterans in post-deployment psychiatric care, to patients manifesting emotional stress physiologically in a primary care setting. As individuals struggle to put words to their suffering or understand the nuance of felt sense, health care providers struggle to provide effective care. Understandably, this leaves both members of the dyad feeling unheard. Psychologists are often tasked, sometimes in partnership with physicians, to help patients learn the connection between mind and body in hopes of them eventually using words to express feelings. The Superhero narratives, with their highly imaginative scenarios, simplistic good vs. bad story elements, and ubiquitous media presence can be used as a facilitator or conduit for patients who struggle to identify emotions within themselves. We propose to develop an easy-to-use digital lexicon of recognizable Superheroes and their corresponding emotional metaphors to be used as an aid by medical professionals treating patients with alexithymia.

Diabetic Patients' Visual Narratives of Illnesss - Yoko Yamanda

We propose a “visual turn” in narrative theory that offers a new approach to qualitative research. The image drawing method (IDM) was designed to transform invisible worlds into visible ones across different social and cultural contexts. Our study “Visual Images of My Illness,” used IDM achieved two goals. First, we examined how patients with diabetes visually represent the relationships between themselves and their illness in the past, the present, and the future. Second, we compared the contents and functions of stories of narrative interviews and visual narratives. Participants were 26 diabetic patients from 40 to 70 years of age. The realistic life events and life habits were told by interviews. The visual narratives represented patients’ feelings, values and meaning of life. These patients need to control their lives and maintain their motivation to follow their medical treatments throughout their life spans. Visual narratives can help us to understand their psychological experience of, and attitudes toward, their illness and their lives. As patients and the medical professions have different views and experiences of illness, they may hold conflict perspectives. Their joint attention to the same mediator – “visual narratives” – can facilitate looking at things from the other person’s perspective and bridging the differences in their experiences and feelings.

Navigating the Fishbowl: Comics and Small Town Medicine - Caroline Shooner

Being a patient or a physician in a small town has its rewards…and its challenges. Friends become our patients, doctors become our friends, and generally everyone knows each other’s business (or, at least, they think they do!) Some years ago, I was involved as a physician in the hospitalization of a young woman, Hilary Thorpe, who suffered a psychotic break after delivering her baby. We knew each other socially, as much as anyone does in a small town. Months later, as she was recovering from this life-changing event, we reconnected over a poem. One thing led to another, and we started collaborating on comics exploring the doctor-patient relationship (http://www.theboondocs.org/comics/on-the-run). Over a two-year period, via emails and over picnic tables, Hilary and I explored what it means to live in our small town, what we thought of each other during our shared medical encounter and how we continue to navigate personal and public expectations. The medium of comics allowed our preferred modes of expression (Hilary – writing, me – doodling) to come together in a creative and efficient way, and added an element of playfulness to our earnest and often emotionally trying explorations. Our work is now part of a larger project, the art show Sick, involving 11 artists, which will open on April 1, 2016 at the Haida Gwaii Museum (http://haidaheritagecentre.com/ – see attached brochure). The art opening will also coincide with the launch of the printed version of my web comic The Boon Docs: Small Town Medicine (www.theboondocs.org).

avatar for Rodney Mountain

Rodney Mountain

Lead for Design and Innovation, Academic Health Science Partnership in Tayside
Dundee is poised to introduce a new wave of creativity, design and innovation to wider society and to create a model "Healthcare" future based on EMPATHIC, user centered DESIGN. This is a wee intro - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on3KttMgbZE to the session that Sandy Thomson from... Read More →


Elizabeth Briggs

Beth Briggs, PsyD is currently completing a postdoctoral fellowship in primary care behavioral health at the Bedford VAMC (Veterans Affairs Medical Center), in the USA. She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at Antioch University, New England. Her clinical interests are in... Read More →
avatar for Kathryn Briggs

Kathryn Briggs

Graphic novelist and arts educator Kathryn Briggs moved to Scotland in 2012 to pursue her Master's of Fine Art. She combines her background in fine art with her love of pop culture to create comics which range from slice of life to comparative mythology. Her work can be found in Treehouse... Read More →
avatar for Caroline Shooner

Caroline Shooner

Rural Family Medicine, Xaayda Gwaay Ngaaysdll Naay / Haida Gwaii Hospital & Health Centre
Small town medicine has its rewards... and its challenges. It helps to cultivate a sense of humour. Over the past few years, drawing cartoons has become one of my favourite modes of expression and reflection, providing new ways to connect with my patients and colleagues.

Friday July 8, 2016 10:15 - 11:45 BST
Lecture Theater 2