The Lonely Patient: How We Experience Illness

  • ISBN 9780060847951

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When someone is diagnosed with a serious illness, he or she is taking the first step on an overwhelmingly challenging and confusing journey. For many, it is as if they are traveling to someplace entirely new and they must go there alone, with only faded directions back to their old lives. Often, even their loved ones can only guess at what they must be experiencing.

The Lonely Patient is a clear-eyed and deeply affecting examination of the inner life of those grappling with illness. It looks into the chasm between the well and the sick by exploring and giving voice to the often unarticulated aspects of illness, offering people with illness--and their family and friends--a frank and intelligent discussion of how to negotiate the psychological and emotional aspects of what they are going through.

Michael Stein, M.D., a professor of medicine at Brown University Medical School as well as an acclaimed novelist, uses the stories of a number of patients, including that of his beloved, terminally ill brother-in-law, Richard, to consider the personal narrative of sickness. What sets Stein's book apart is his intimate scrutiny of the uniqueness of each patient's experience, which he breaks into four parts--betrayal, terror, loss, and loneliness--and renders each in such a way that he opens a dialogue about our expectations of health and, after its shocking disappearance, of illness.

Beautifully written and keenly insightful, The Lonely Patient is a valuable book for patients and their caregivers--as well as a probing inquiry into a universal experience.

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