Shame and Medicine Exeter
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Shame and Shaming in Medicine through Comics


Comics speak ‘to us as a playful species and allows us to absorb complex propositions whilst experiencing (…) enjoyment, whatever the subject matter’
Graphic Medicine Manifesto – MK Czerwiec, Ian Williams, Susan Merrill Squier, Michael J. Green, Kimberly R. Myers, Scott T. Smith


Shame is a complicated and constant emotion in the human experience. Addressing it and the situations and reactions that come with it can be difficult. Comics offer authors the possibility to reflect on shame experiences through a creative process that allows for certain distance, while also being deeply personal. This text/image media permits combining in the same narrative comedy and tragedy, different moments in time and voices through an adaptable and accessible language.

The relevance of comics in the discussion around health and health related topics can be seen by the coinage of the term ‘graphic medicine’, which refers to comics that deal with healthcare related topics. This project aims to use comics as a source to understand the ways in which we express (or don’t) shame in the three healthcare contexts that concern the Shame and Medicine Project and how those experiences are mediated by the intersection of different identities (race, gender, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation).

This PhD project started in July of 2021, and I am currently in the literature review phase. I am also compiling a preliminary list of the comics I will work with. If you have any recommendations of graphic medicine, particularly centred around the experiences of medical students, please do get in touch with me, I would very much appreciate it.


Juanita Navarro-Páez –