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Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors, Susan Sontag

Date: May 30, 2017 Category: , ,

Illness as Metaphor looks to a wide range of historical sources, from seventeenth-century medical texts to literary depictions of tuberculosis from the Romantic era, to explore the semantic conditions of illness. In this collection of essays, Sontag problematizes Western frameworks for understanding illness and argues that metaphorical references to the body are not only imprecise, they also gravely harms patients whose bodily experiences are imbued with cultural mores. While critics claimed Sontag could not be impartial while having cancer herself, Illness as Metaphor was one of the first texts that I ever read to critically address otherwise private experiences. Sontag elucidates the ways in which the words we use are deeply embedded in structures of power. This opened the door for me to not just engage these ideas theoretically, but to reflect on my own position as a patient and how my illnesses have been framed by both biomedical practitioners and loved ones. —Carolyn