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.
Subjects: Health Sciences
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