Explanatory Fictions – A Reason to Believe

An enquiry into how astrology functions as a narrative healing construct and a comparative study of placebo effects in conventional medicine.

Nicola Smuts-Allsop

ABSTRACT

This dissertation provides an enquiry into the relationships between healing, narrative, and cosmologies. Recently, medical scholars have begun to examine the role that narrative plays in their healing practices. A discussion of this new research forms the background for an examination of the interrelationship between narrative and cosmology in the context of healing. Specifically, this dissertation documents the potential utility for astrology as a healing modality understood alongside current conceptions of narrative medicine; that is, it will establish links between the uses of healing narratives and talismans in astrology with the phenomenon known as the ‘placebo effect’ in the modern medical community. This research argues that astrology, which functions both as a cosmology and as a language that employs myth and symbol, provides a rich source of overlooked narratives capable of creating healing meaning for patients who are ill or suffering, much in the same way that placebos offer healing as currently understood by modern medical scholars.

Nicola Smuts-Allsop