Aaron Antonovsky, the medical sociologist, defined the sense of coherence as a pervasive sense that the events in one's life are comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful or worthwhile. Research on the sense of coherence indicates that it is positively correlated with resilience and adaptive coping with disabilities and illnesses. The collection of first-person narratives published in Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics on genetic testing can be understood as expressions of the human effort to restore or sustain a sense of coherence in the face of illness, uncertainty, or even curiosity about one's origins and future wellbeing. While the medical usefulness of the genetic testing that was discussed in the collection of narratives was often modest, the contribution of testing to the sense of coherence was often greater. Understanding the sense of coherence as a possible motive for genetic testing might reshape the way that we conceive of the benefits and the burdens of genetic testing and the disclosure of incidental findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-244
Number of pages8
JournalNarrative inquiry in bioethics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


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