Encounters with the Invisible: Unseen Illness, Controversy, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Southern Methodist University Press, 2005 - Medical - 318 pages
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While news stories tout the successes of molecular science, gene mapping, and high-tech interventions to treat disease, there’s another, untold story within today’s medical landscape. It is the story of the growing number of chronic, controversial illnesses--chronic fatigue syndrome, Gulf War syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity--poorly served by today’s biomedical, pathogen-oriented approach to disease.

With a lyric, incisive voice, Dorothy Wall blends the personal story of her struggles with CFS with a graphic sketch of the CFS terrain: the woeful federal response, patient advocacy politics, medical debates, environmental questions.

Eighteen chapters explore a spectrum of issues. "Listening” conveys the impact on a patient when medical practitioners are deaf to her story, and posits listening as a moral act. "That Name” leaps into the minefield of controversy between and among patient advocacy groups, researchers, and the medical establishment over the power to define, name, and legitimize disease. "The Erotics of Illness” pulls readers to the intimate core of illness, with its upheavals, pain, and tenuous pleasure. "Staying Home” explores the meanings of enclosure for women and the struggle to find purpose and meaning in a reduced, homebound life.

Personal drama merges with literary reflection, reportage, and medical history. An important investigation of what many are calling "postmodern” illness, Encounters with the Invisible offers a thought-provoking look at a controversial illness and the challenge to biomedicine it presents.

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Encounters with the invisible: unseen illness, controversy, and chronic fatigue syndrome

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An estimated 80,000 adults in the United States have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). A sufferer for 20 years, Wall balances the chronicle of her struggle with a thorough investigation of the existing ... Read full review


Prologue Listening to Einstein in the Dark
Encounters with the Invisible

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About the author (2005)

DOROTHY WALL is coauthor of Finding Your Writer’s Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction. Her essays and poems have appeared in such venues as Witness, Sonora Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Cimarron Review, and Under the Sun. She has taught at San Francisco State University, U.C. Berkeley Extension, and Napa Valley College. She is a writing consultant in Berkeley, California.

NANCY KLIMAS, MD, is a professor of medicine, psychology, microbiology, and immunology at the University of Miami School of Medicine where she directed one of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Centers sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. She works in this country and abroad to bring a better understanding of CFS to clinicians and policy makers.

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