I'm reading a book called Illness by a philosopher named Havi carel. She sufferes from a rare lung disease and during her treatment she started to reflect on what being ill meant. To her, to her medical team, her family, friends and work colleagues. Familiar territory for us, isn't it. I am finding it a very useful book to read at the moment as she explains in conceptual terms the very things I have been grappling with as an ill writer myself. Her knowledge of philosophy (for example, phenomenology and materialism) and her experience of being ill make for a lot of insights and a very interesting read. The last book I read was Lying, A Metaphorical Memoir by Lauren Slater. Now that was a very strange book indeed. From what I can gather she has made up a story about herself having epilepsy (or not?) and has used it to explore some of her life issues (particularly her relationship with her mother). I think I have got that right. For the life of me it really isn;t easy to get an angle on what she was really on about. Chapter One just says "I exaggerate". That's all. Help me out here, if you've read it. Or maybe you'd just like top pretend you've read it and make up something to say. That would fit. I might stick to a more philosophical treatment for a while. Except for my own writing. Of course. H
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Sorry - my only response is Hmmmmm? S
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for me, Harker, you may have put your finger on it. I talk of Havi Carel's book, which I have not read, but will. I Googled it up and found an Interview on the Philsophers Zone called "The philosophy of illness - Havi Carel" http://www.abc.net.au/rn/philosopherszone/stories/2010/2889678.htm http://snipurl.com/116xs3 with an Podcast and a Transcript. I read the transcript and had a somewhat cathartic experience, and deja vu to boot! This is because much of what is in my head, that I was hoping to be able to draw out through the Expressive Writing Group, is here in Carel's interview, and no doubt more so in her book. To include a wider audience here, who might wonder at what has pricked my interest, I include a few excerpts from the Transcript that immediately caught my attention and seems so relevant to our circumstance and I believe is worthy of discussion: "I can give further examples if you like. Merleau-Ponty talks about our perceptions as being not of individual objects, but of what he calls the phenomenal field, and for him the phenomenal field is simply the opening into the world that is available to us through our senses, so the phenomenal field is visual, audio, tactile and so on, and these are not distinct sort of streams of information if you like. Rather they're all synthesised and experienced consistently and coherently through what he calls the phenomenal field. And one w ay to think about illness is to think about it as radically altering our phenomenal field so if somebody's confined to bed for example, their phenomenal field shrinks very rapidly and might find new points of interest and concentration in, say, the view from the window or birdsong from outside." "So he (Heidegger) thinks of the human being as a movement, if you like, from the past to the future, in which humans strive to achieve goals, have projects, make plans and so on. And this whole structure is delimited by the fact that the future is finite, the future doesn't stretch infinitely before us, but has a pretty well known end point." "And what all of these studies are telling us is that in fact suffering from ill health or some sort of physical limitation doesn't make people less happy or doesn't reduce people's wellbeing in any way, and this is very surprising data, that I'm currently thinking of ways of explaining." "And it's true that when you win the lottery or buy a new car and move into a new house, you experience a temporary increase in your level of happiness, but you very quickly return to your sort of baseline level, and this is what psychologists call hedonic adaptation. And the idea is that you just get used to your plush new car or your beautiful new house and you stop benefiting from the nice experiences that these things afford you. And a negative experience like ill-health and divorce, you get a similar effect where you have a temporary reduction in the level of wellbeing or happiness, but you very quickly again go back to your baseline level. So overall, the surprising thing is that ill-health and happiness are not incompatible." "So I think in cases where the prognosis is unclear or poor, patients often need to work very hard at conceiving of being able to be happy in the present, without relying on the future being this extensive and happy scenario." "And I think a lot of the contemporary thinking about palliative care for example, is precisely around that, it's not trying to prolong the patient's life or trying to give them peace and joy in the present, and it sounds like a sensible and easy thing to achieve, but for me was a very long struggle to find peace of mind without holding on to the thought that my future is secure in some way." - interview with Havi Carel on the Philosophers Zone on 8 May 2010 long winded, you may think? Try the Podcast, it maybe easier to take it all in by listening. thanks again Harker and thanks to the ABC's Radio National. RN,like the Cancer Council, is an Australian asset of world class proportions. I had a small but valuable Eureka-moment on this topic that I am working on my BLOG http://www.cancerconnections.com.au/blog/my-bad-hair-day
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