My Imaginary Illness

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

3.59 (49 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Foreword by  , Afterword by 

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How Patients Think At age twenty-one, Chloe 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 more

Product details

  • Hardback | 248 pages
  • 162.56 x 228.6 x 25.4mm | 476.27g
  • Cornell University Press
  • ILR Press
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0801448875
  • 9780801448874
  • 1,014,018

Review quote

"I met Chloe G. K. Atkins about fifteen years ago. What struck me about her at that time was that she was a leader: smart, courageous, and good humored. This book shows the same Chloe, but along with the context of the battle that she had to lead herself through. The word that comes screaming through every page of this story for me is humility--and how it is so desperately needed by physicians and other health workers who aspire to care for the sick. Every health care worker would be the better for reading Chloe's story."--Peter A. Singer, MD, MPH, FRCPC, FRSC, Professor of Medicine and Sun Life Financial Chair in Bioethics, University of Torontoshow more

Rating details

49 ratings
3.59 out of 5 stars
5 14% (7)
4 49% (24)
3 22% (11)
2 10% (5)
1 4% (2)
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