Reviews of My Imaginary Illness:

  • The American Journal of Nursing just named My Imaginary Illness a 2011 Book of the Year (Consumer Health)!! Here is the review:  This book provides an exceptional ac­ count of a young woman struggling with a disease that eludes diagnosis for many years. Her narrative touches the heart and soul in ways that few have. It addresses sev­ eral underlying challenges in medicine and nursing. Importantly, it provides commen­ tary on an issue that health care profession­ als will understand: patients suffering from serious medical conditions have to not only endure the ef­ fects of ravaging illness, but also survive a health care sys­ tem that punishes those whose diseases are misunderstood or not readily diagnosed. Even worse is the notion that the patient is faking the diagnoses.  The author takes great care to provide a balanced ap­ proach in her assertion that medical and nursing profession­ als are both perpetrators and victims of the diagnostically driven, Hippocratic medical model. A strong case is made that changes are desperately needed in hospitals as well as in the structure, function, and teaching of educational settings. • Is extremely well written, organized, and interesting to read. • Provides a compelling picture of health care today and connects with the reader on an emotional level. • Helps health care providers transcend the bias against cli­ents with disorders they’re not able to diagnose or those that are somatoform in nature.
  • Reviews can be found at the following website www. goodreads.com as well.”My Imaginary Illness recounts a lengthy struggle that includes many failures of efforts to diagnose and treat a strange and increasingly debilitating disease by clinicians both kind and empathic and distant to the point of hostility. Yet it is not a vehicle for ‘doctor-bashing’ or bitterness. Rather it is a tale of perseverance and problem solving that reveals along the way some worrisome fault lines in our health-care culture, and the strains in current professional training models and work conditions that underlie them.”—from the Foreword by Bonnie Blair O’Connor
  • “Chloë G. K. Atkins’s book is a must-read for all student and graduate nurses, physicians, medical sociologists, social workers, and all else who work in health care. It dramatically illustrates the dangers of a totalizing medical discourse that denies patients any control over their disease. All health care workers must learn multiple discourses of illness and treatment and respect the embodied experience of patients, eschewing any approach that shames and blames the patient.”—Patricia Benner, RN, coauthor of Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation
  • “I met Chloë 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 Chloë, 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 Chloë’s story.”—Peter A. Singer, MD, MPH, FRCPC, FRSC, Professor of Medicine and Sun Life Financial Chair in Bioethics, University of Toronto
  • “In this brave account of her severe experiences of illness, medical neglect, and sometimes outright mistreatment, Chloë G. K. Atkins tells a story that needs to be heard by all clinicians. Doctors and nurses today are expected to treat all of their patients empathetically, whether they like them or not. Yet over and over again we see patients with difficult-to-diagnose conditions, or other predicaments that frustrate clinicians, treated disdainfully. Just as justice is most necessary not when people agree but when they are subject to conflicts, skillful empathy is most necessary when clinicians have complicated, negative emotional reactions to patients. The aim in such cases is for the clinician to empathize with the patient’s dilemma, rather than to wait until she can neatly diagnose the patient in order to show empathy. Atkins shows how powerfully therapeutic it was for her when caregivers grasped her dilemmas of daily living, from her own perspective.”—Jodi Halpern, MD, PhD, University of California, Berkeley, author of From Detached Concern to Empathy: Humanizing Medical Practice
  • “Chloë G. K. Atkins’s gripping book My Imaginary Illness shows scholars and laypersons alike how humiliating and degrading it is for persons with disabilities to routinely face the rampant discrimination that plagues the medical community and society at large. Her compelling narrative reveals how she sought and found her dignity and humanity, all while fighting and recovering from an illness that the medical community could not understand given the limits of biomedical science. In this unique book, Atkins convincingly pokes holes in the biomedical community’s ethical shortcomings and its empirical limitations by employing her own rigorous political theory lens. Doctors, patients, and students of political theory will all profit greatly from reading Atkins’s book.”—Ruth O’Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York
  • “Anyone interested in bioethics, in social justice in the medical field, should not only read this book but reflect upon how to improve their own practice so empathy rather than abandonment, support rather than judgment may become the norm.”  Margo Husby, PhD, Department of Communication and Culture, University of Calgary

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