Western medicine treats sick patients like broken machines — figure out what is physically wrong, fix it, and send the patient on their way. But humans are not machines. When we are ill, we experience our illness: we become scared, distressed, tired, weary. Our illnesses are not just biological conditions, but human ones.
It was Arthur Kleinman, a Harvard psychiatrist and anthropologist, who saw this truth when most of his fellow doctors did not. Based on decades of clinical experience studying and treating chronic illness, The Illness Narratives makes a case for interpreting the illness experience of patients as a core feature of doctoring.
Before Being Mortal or The Body Keeps the Score, there was The Illness Narratives. It remains today a prescient and passionate case for bridging the gap between patient and practitioner.