Electronic Physician journal has recently published an autoethnography article, titled "Aging parents’ caregiving and rehabilitating a brain-injured son: an autoethnography of a 10-year journey", written by a Malaysian scholar, Professor Dr. Syed Tajuddin Syed Hassan (STSH).

We believe this article is a exemplary sample of this special type of article. Hence we believe that the method the author followed in organizing and presenting the article is commendable, thus recommended for other qualitative approach researchers in preparing and subsequently penning down their autoethnography.

Click here to view the abstract and access to download the full-text PDF of the autoethnography.


About Autoethnography

According to STSH, autoethnography is fundamentally a story, a critical/analytical reflection, about oneself written by the person him/her-self. It is a narrative, usually resulting from qualitative descriptive research, usually of one’s own life experience. The narrative, typically, focuses on certain aspects of life or lifetime which solicit evocation, awareness, understanding, sympathy or empathy from readers and society at large. Compared to quantitative research, which strictly adheres to objective positivism paradigm, qualitative research including autoethnography lends itself to subjective interpretive constructive analytical philosophy. Autoethnography allows rich information which portrays and highlights thoughts, ideas, actions, and behavior of individuals, through self-voicing narration. This technique empowers a person to be eloquent in expressing his/her own qualia and analytic interpretation within his/her own social and societal setting. Readers/listeners awareness and empathy are solicited through such narrative/narration. Thus understanding of human behavior can lead to a discovery of human needs, which subsequently elicits a strategy to discover grounded theory.

The setting of an ethnography typically involves immersion within an identifiable social-cultural-religion (belief)-political ecosystem. Such emic (insider) perspective enables deep learning through intellectual interpretation of socio-cultural-religion milieu and practices, in relation to positivism and perception. Hence, there is usually an interactive dynamics between the author and others within the societal matrix. Well narrated analytical dynamic interactions can inform health professionals and policy makers, thus facilitating and engendering changes in healthcare practice.

The STSH's autoethnography is a narrative evocation of his traumatic experience in confronting for the first time, in his life, a double trauma; death of his second son and affliction of traumatic brain injury of his first son. In the subsequent years, the STSH and his wife had to care and rehabilitate their first son. It is a journey of immense challenges and overwhelming demands. In this traumatic setting, they were shaken emotionally, physically and spiritually by other people’s apathy, indifference, insensitivity, and ignorance of grieving pain and psyche, brain injury trauma, and the mental-physical exhaustion of caregiving and rehabilitating tasks. Nevertheless, they also met with positive heart-warming responses from friends, family and strangers. Hence, they narrate their reflection critically through interrogating commonly held societal values, beliefs, practices, qualia, and dogmas. Their feelings, thoughts, and actions, and those of their recovering son, and interacting-engaged others, portray the epiphany in their life’s journey.


About the author: Professor Dr. Syed Tajuddin Syed Hassan

Professor Dr. Syed Tajuddin Syed Hassan is an accomplished wise Malaysian academic, possessing, an enigmatic array of capability and capacity, friendly-charismatic personality and persona, colorful achievement and knowledge-based life’s passion, and humanely caring psyche imbued with compassion and empathy. His loyalty to a true sincere friendship, institution, and polity, with anyone of any belief/religion, anywhere, is second to none. A humble beginning from a small outback village was followed by a boyhood educational, physical, spiritual, and disciplinary growing-up-training at the Malaysian Royal Military College.  Excellent educational achievement propelled him to higher education studies in Australia, culminating with a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Queensland. At his only employer of 40 years, the Universiti Pertanian Malaysian, he specialized in biological sciences, initially, and later in biostatistics and research. He successfully rose to the academic pinnacle of being a professor. In research, teaching and extension, he has evolved from dealing and discovery of plant and animal sciences to that of understanding-unfolding of human and societal matrices! Among the accolades and achievements, every one of which he treasures, the Fulbright sojourn in the United States of America, and his knowledge-contributing stay at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences (Shiraz, Iran), are especially memorable. 


A devout reader-writer-learner with love-of-knowledge addiction enables him to continually perpetuate deliverance and generation of knowledge, through various learning-brainstorming fora and publications. To date he successfully authored and co-authored a total of 400 publications. At the present age of 66, with God’s Will, he continues to soldier-on in knowledge discovery and delivery.   

Click here to view the abstract and access to download the full-text PDF of the autoethnography.