A Psychology Of Medically Unexplained Symptoms

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My boyfriend Danny is a twenty-two year old student who was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. His experience took a toll on his mental well-being and his loved ones. His interaction with health care providers and the system by whole can be thought of in a sociological way using examples of readings by Sarah Nettleton, Pat and Hugh Armstrong, Ulli Diemer, Michael Oldani, Talcott Parsons, and Erving Goffman. By touching on topics such as uncertainty, the private versus the public sectors of health care, pharmaceutical companies, the sick role, and impression management, we can further contextualize Danny’s condition in its social premise.

Sarah Nettleton’s article “I just want permission to be ill”: Towards a sociology of medically unexplained symptoms exemplifies the feeling of uncertainty Danny had experienced. “Those who experience debilitating symptoms for which there is no explanation, label, diagnosis, prognosis or treatment invariably endure a significant degree of embodied doubt and uncertainty” (Nettleton 2006, 1167). In April 2016, Danny experienced anal bleeding that occurred for over a month. Danny entered the pre-diagnostic stage where patients often engaged in “information work” to try and figure out what is wrong with them. They often search through books and internet sites and diagnose themselves (Nettleton 2006, 1268). After worrying and searching through endless internet sites, he finally had enough and went to a walk-in clinic. We waited for over

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