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Lecture 4

ANTHROP 3HI3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Chronic Pain, Chronic Condition, Sick Role

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Priscilla Medeiros

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Anthro 3HI3
Week 4
January 30, 2018
Social and Cultural Complexities of Chronic Disease
- Chronic pain threatens an individual’s sense of self
- The real me
references an individual’s past
- When pain is felt, identity is suspended; when it leaves, the person feels like
themself again… sometimes original identity cannot be recovered due to
emotional/spiritual/mental constraints
- Pain disrupts all aspects of an individual’s life
- Discussions of future is hardest thing for someone with chronic pain to speak
- Associated with limitations on work, household chores, fatigue, social roles and
- Chronic pain causes: reduced quality of life and physiological suffering of
Defining the self
- Refers to who we are
- Shaped by cultural, societal, familial, and individual values
- Some aspects of the self can be changed
- May or may not have an awareness of the self
- Understanding the self or sense of self is the experience in a person's illness
- Social interactions, educational and social backgrounds shape who we are,
because of these factors the “self” is constantly changing
- What we want others to know or think about us (different to what we present/how
we perceive ourselves... this is the grey area of self vs. identity)
Defining identity
- The way we maintain our identity is based on the social relationships we have with others
- It is our public image
- Identities are socially constructed and rarely static
- What we choose to show/display to others
- Illnesses cause us to disguise our identity and public image, due to stigma
that goes along with some disease/illness… our identity is the way we act
to present image to others… socially constructed
- Created and maintained through social relationships
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- Antigen explaining her oppressive past/how identity influenced life choices…
hers isn’t fully developed (page 92)
- Speaks to how we relate to others
Self and identity changes
- Pain influences how the self is experienced
- Example: being diagnosed with AIDs changes the self… BUT! Chronic illness
does not define who you are, or your identity
- Comparing one’s life situation to another can lead to feeling disconnected from society
- Disconnected from self: never resolved when dealing with chronic illness
- Way of presenting public image… (when sick) less talkative, more sensitive, less
- Illness consequences: can’t work, mobility restrictions, etc… individual must try
adapt, or will result in feeling withdrawn and disconnected
Question 1: How has the chronicity (experience of chronic pain) affected the identity of
Antigone Paget?
- Changed her artist identity, her enjoyment in life
- Antigone identity loss has been ongoing for her whole life, living sheltered and not
standing up for herself, she lacked her identity to move forward in her own life
- “It controls me, it’s limiting”, “Can’t deal with financial and career needs”, she was no
longer independant or able to make choices for herself
- Her self identity is tied to history and childhood (page 93) [kept her life experience as a
- She has no sense of self, therefore she hides
Question 2: What was Antigone Paget’s way forward to have an individuated self identity?
- Moving to Chicago, breakaway, find herself, pursue her interests, started working in an
Art Gallery
- Separation from her husband (page 94)
Grief, loss and fear
- Comes with living life with an illness, chronic pain
- Reframes how we define ourselves and interact with others
- Must adapt to new self image
- Establish the self
on the basis of what is meaningful to us
- Changes what is meaningful in their life
- People grieve for the loss of what was and for what will never be
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