Making Sense of Illness

Making Sense of Illness : Science, Society and Disease

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This 1998 book offers historical essays about how diseases change their meaning. Each of the diseases or etiologic hypotheses in this book has had a controversial and contested history: psychosomatic views of ulcerative colitis, twentieth-century chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme disease, angina pectoris, risk factors for coronary heart disease, and the type A hypothesis. At the core of these controversies are disagreements among investigators, clinicians, and patients over the best way to deal with what individuals bring to disease. By juxtaposing the history of the different diseases, the author shows how values and interests have determined research programs, public health activities, clinical decisions, and the patient's experience of illness. The approach is novel in its interweaving of historical research and the clinical experiences of the author. It should appeal to an audience of physicians, policy makers, social scientists and the general reader interested in broad intellectual currents in modern medicine.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 286 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 20mm | 400g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • Worked examples or Exercises
  • 0521558255
  • 9780521558259
  • 1,699,017

Table of contents

1. Introduction; 2. The rise and fall of the psychosomatic hypothesis in ulcerative colitis; 3. From myalgic encephalitis to yuppie flu: a history of chronic fatigue syndrome; 4. Lyme disease: the social construction of a new disease and its social consequences; 5. From the patient's angina pectoris to the cardiologist's coronary heart disease; 6. The social construction of coronary heart disease risk factors; 7. The rise and fall of the type A hypothesis; 8. Conclusion.
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Review quote

"Making Sense of Illness succeeds as both a medical monograph and a book for the lay reader because it speaks to such deep matters of health and health care delivery, and accomplishes its task in relatively jargon-free language. This is a book for the thinking reader." The Washington Post "This book will stimulate responses from both the ontologic and holistic camps...It should be especially appreciated by the new breed of academics incessantly involved in designing and redesigning the medical school curriculum." The New England Journal of Medicine "The author of this very sensible book is no ideologue; he makes us think hard about interactions among social and biological determinants of disease meaning....Making Sense of Illness succeeds as both a medical monograph and a book for the lay reader because it speaks to such deep matters of health and health care delivery, and accomplishes its task in relatively jargon-free language. This is a book for the thinking reader." Harold J. Morowitz, The Washington Post "Robert A. Aronowitz has written a challenging and most interesting short book perhaps best characterized as medical historicosociologic in scope...I hope that Making Sense of Illness will be widely read and discussed within our profession." Joseph S. Alpert, MD, JAMA "...a doctor's effort to do justice...bringing us to our (clinical senses) so that we can appreciate the limits as well as the extent of our new knowledge." Robert Coles, The Lancet "The great virtue of this book is the author's esential even handedness. He is an astute clinician...alert to the way new knowledge can becloud as well as inform..." Robert Coloe, The Lancet "The author wants us to examine closely the way our thinking about diseases in the abstract effects our relationship with our patients...those broader social and cultural matters as they bear down on the daily encounters that take place in medical offices across the world, and especially among the priveledged, health-conscious bourgeoisie of the western world." Robert Coloe, The Lancet " this century, we have acquired an astonishing body of knowledge about the mechanisms of various diseases, and this book in no way underestimates or undervalues that knowledge." Robert Coles, The Lancet " insightful book focused on 20th-century medical developments and based on his own clinical experiences with chronic disease. ...should be read by everybody who cares for the future of medicine." Inquirer "His argmumentation is lucid, temperate, and scholarly. His intention is to open his readers' eyes to the historical contingencies and unexamined assumptions that underpin medical knowledge. His case studies wil be substantively interesting to psychiatric audiences, but it would be a mistake to ignore the book's larger imlications for psychiatry. Aronowitz's splendid book points us in this direction." Allan Young, Ph.D., The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
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Rating details

11 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 27% (3)
4 55% (6)
3 9% (1)
2 9% (1)
1 0% (0)
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