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Achieving harmony with oneself: life with a chronic illness


Charlotte Delmar, Clinical Nursing Research Unit, Aalborg Sygehus, Århus Universitetshospital, Stengade 10, 3. sal, 9000 Aalborg, Denmark.


This paper presents partial findings of a larger research project focusing on what it means to live with a chronic illness. Getting in harmony with oneself is a movement towards, and a form of, acceptance of the chronic suffering and disease. Some patients achieve this level of acceptance, while for others the obstacles of everyday life make this movement towards acceptance difficult. Achieving harmony with oneself is conditioned by the existence of hope and spirit of life/life courage and by the pressure of doubts on this hope. Doubts can shake this hope so that instead of moving towards acceptance, the patient drifts towards hopelessness and despair. The research design is qualitative and uses a phenomenological-hermeneutic approach. A total of 18 patients were interviewed, divided into three groups of six patients diagnosed with ‘type I’ diabetes, colitis ulcerosa and patients with coronary occlusion in the rehabilitation phase. The goal of the research was to derive patterns/themes common to the three diagnosed groups regarding the patients’ view of health and disease in connection with chronic illness and to elucidate the significance of this view for how the patients coped with everyday life. The research method is inspired by Paul Ricoeur.