Dr. Erin Winterrowd
Dr. Mark Bruhn
Thesis - Open Access
Number of Pages
While the stigma for mental illnesses has greatly declined in the last decade, there is still a disconnect between individuals without neurological illnesses and those with neurological illnesses, especially those that cause individuals to lose contact with reality. The goal of this interdisciplinary paper is to create empathy for these individuals, specifically people with schizophrenia, Alzheimer disease, and post-traumatic amnesia. Through a collection of four stories told from the perspective of these unreliable narrators, I used fiction writing techniques from the field of cognitive literary studies such as gapping and defamiliarization to create more empathy in the reader. In reading stories through the first-person perspective of these individuals with neurological disorders, the reader gains a better understanding of what it would be like to experience these disorders and how disorienting it would be to lose contact with reality or your memories. The stories are followed by an appendix outlining the history, symptomology, neurobiological basis, and treatment options for each of the diseases. This helps the reader connect the behavior seen in the stories to the neuroscience behind it, as well as understand the history and stigma behind each disorder. After all, we are more similar than we think because we are all the unreliable narrators of our own stories.
Date of Award
© Danielle Beckman
Beckman, Danielle, "The Inevitability of Collision: Creating Empathy Through Fiction" (2021). Student Publications. 988.
Accessibility Commons, Behavioral Neurobiology Commons, Biological Psychology Commons, Developmental Neuroscience Commons, Disability Studies Commons, Educational Psychology Commons, Fiction Commons, Nervous System Diseases Commons, Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics Commons