Academic Medicine Journal
Storytelling is central to the human experience. In fact, it is quite likely that our human ancestors survived, in part, because they became adept at telling stories to convey complex information about environmental threats, the status of food and water sources, social group dynamics, and to transmit crucial information and practices across generations.
The urge to engage in storytelling is so irrepressible that it is almost a reflex. Try looking at any given painting involving human (or other) subjects and see if you can suppress the instinctive desire to project an explanatory story. This narrative instinct is present even in persons with dementia, a vulnerable population too often defined in our society by their deficits rather than by their remaining strengths.
Anne Basting, a theater professor from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, tapped into the primordial power of storytelling in the mid-‘90s. Working in an assisted living home as a graduate student, she became frustrated by the lack of engaging activities. She tore a picture of the Marlboro Man out of a magazine and simply asked residents to tell a story about the cowboy in the picture. The residents — all of whom were affected by advanced memory loss – sprung to life, issuing forth with insightful, witty, and imaginative observations that Anne recorded in a free-form poem.Read the full article at the Academic Medicine Journal.