Medical Narrative Writing: “The Invisible War on the Brain”

“The Invisible War on the Brain,” an article from National Geographic, is a nice model for a medical narrative. I noticed that several key features comprise a publication of this type: first is the catchy title, next an introductory story, then the research behind it, and finally the remainder of the article alternates personal stories with scientific explanation in a way that builds upon each upon the other. The article concludes rather inconclusively but leaves the reader more informed on an ongoing topic of research.

This article makes a marked attempt to appeal to an average American. The topic is injuries to American soldiers and, as the reader finds out later in the article, the source of these injuries is unsolved. Though it’s never explicitly stated, a call to action does exist in this article’s undertones. That’s one thing I really enjoyed about reading it–a thread of emotion, perhaps synonymous with a thread of narrative–was present throughout the article that shook me up and heightened my interest in the otherwise dry scientific sections. Moreover, a purpose existed within the unsolved conclusion: blast-induced brain trauma is a serious problem that afflicts many American soldiers and more research must be funded to investigate the cause.

What made “The Invisible War on the Brain” a solid article overall was the way that it interweaved so many desirable components into one. It had mass appeal,  powerful stories, reputable research, and a decisive purpose. Reading this article provided me with a basic understanding of the factors that make up a good medical narrative.



One thought on “Medical Narrative Writing: “The Invisible War on the Brain”

  1. Allison Miehl April 22, 2015 / 4:58 am

    The way you describe the National Geographic article makes it evident that there were several elements of style all working together well. Stories like this remind readers that writing truly is a craft that requires practice and skill, not just a formula to follow. It sounds like whoever wrote “The Invisible War on the Brain” is a great writer and reporter, and if National Geographic holds all of its writers to these standards, it’s no wonder they’re so highly regarded.


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