In the course of interviews with Israeli women who had recently been treated for breast cancer, we found that our informants tended to offer us "treatment narratives" rather than, or sometimes in addition to, the "illness narratives" made famous by Arthur Kleinman. For the women we interviewed, treatment narratives constitute verbal platforms on which to explore what it means to be human during a period in which one's body, spirit, and social identity are undergoing intense transformations. A central theme in these narratives is the Hebrew word yachas, loosely translated as "attitude," "attention," or "relationship." The women consistently contrasted the good yachas of medical staff who treated them "like humans" or like" real friends" with the bad yachas of staff who treated them like numbers, machines, or strangers. We argue that the women used language (in various contexts) as a means of resisting the medical culture's pattern of treating patients as "nonhumans.".
- Breast cancer
- Total institution