This is a collection of approximately 45 pathographies-essays, memoirs, biography, autobiography, poems, and reflections on illness experiences -grouped loosely into four categories of related subject matter. These categories are: Illness and Identity: Dynamics of Self and Family; Concealing Illness, Performing Health; Agency and Advocacy; Medicine at the Margins. The majority of the pieces are written by non-health care academics about their experiences with a wide variety of illnesses. A few have been written by or with health care professionals.


As is predictable in an anthology so wide ranging, there is considerable variability in the presentations and the voices they represent. There are a few stellar pathographies that pinpoint the human condition clearly and sensitively. Among these are "Stay of Execution" by Susanna Black (pg 101); "DSM-IV 300.30" by Mikita Brottman (pg 347), and "Breast Art"--three poems by Lisa Katz (158). Many of the pieces are replete with academic jargon used as creative and/or metaphorical descriptions possibly inaccessible to individuals who are not comfortable with the language of the Academy.

There are some fine teaching opportunities in this collection -- stories about experience with health problems not frequently explored in pathographies, such as uterine prolapse (pg 189), panic disorder (pg 330), and Guillain-Barré Sydrome (pg 421), as well as the frustrations engendered by not being able to access perceived essential diagnostic studies because of insurance issues (see "Interstices of Illness," (pg 381).


Purdue University Press

Place Published

West Lafayette, Indiana




Kimberly R. Myers

Page Count