My Imaginary Illness: A Journey into Uncertainty and Prejudice in Medical Diagnosis

My Imaginary Illness: A Journey into Uncertainty and Prejudice in Medical Diagnosis

by Chloe G. K. Atkins
     
 

ISBN-10: 0801448875

ISBN-13: 9780801448874

Pub. Date: 11/18/2010

Publisher: Cornell University Press

How Patients Think

At age twenty-one, Chloë Atkins began suffering from a mysterious illness, the symptoms of which rapidly worsened. Paralyzed for months at a time, she frequently required intubation and life support. She eventually became quadriplegic, dependent both on a wheelchair and on health professionals who refused to believe there was anything

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Overview

How Patients Think

At age twenty-one, Chloë Atkins began suffering from a mysterious illness, the symptoms of which rapidly worsened. Paralyzed for months at a time, she frequently required intubation and life support. She eventually became quadriplegic, dependent both on a wheelchair and on health professionals who refused to believe there was anything physically wrong with her. When test after test returned inconclusive results, Atkins's doctors pronounced her symptoms psychosomatic. Atkins was told not only that she was going to die but also that this was her own fault; they concluded she was so emotionally deranged that she was willing her own death.

My Imaginary Illness is the compelling story of Atkins's decades-long battle with a disease deemed imaginary, her frustration with a succession of doctors and diagnoses, her immersion in the world of psychotherapy, and her excruciating physical and emotional journey back to wellness. As both a political theorist and patient, Atkins provides a narrative critique of contemporary medicine and its problematic handling of uncertainty and of symptoms that are not easily diagnosed or known. She convincingly illustrates that medicine's belief in evidence-based practice does not mean that individual doctors are capable of objectivity, nor that the presence of biomedical ethics invokes ethical practices in hospitals and clinics.

A foreword by Bonnie Blair O'Connor, who teaches medical students how to listen to patients, and a clinical commentary by Dr. Brian David Hodges, a professor of psychiatry, enrich the book's narrative with practical guidance for medical practitioners and patients alike.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801448874
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
11/18/2010
Series:
The Culture and Politics of Health Care Work Series
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Foreword Bonnie Blair O'Connor O'Connor, Bonnie Blair

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1 Beginnings 1

2 The Original Crisis 6

3 Facing Uncertainty 12

4 Ontological Apprehensions 15

5 Diagnosis: Conversion Reaction 19

6 Credo 23

7 More Paralysis and More Psychological Remedies 31

8 A Pyrrhic Victory 40

9 Becoming a Pariah 50

10 Fire! Fire! 59

11 Love in the Midst of Ruin 79

12 Grasping at a Diagnosis, Hoping for a Cure 92

13 The Crisis Deepens 101

14 Contemplating Hemlock 119

15 Icarus 123

16 A Crisis, American Style 132

17 Gravy 140

Clinical Commentary Brian David Hodges Hodges, Brian David 153

Bibliography 193

About the Authors 203

Index 205

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