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The Fibromyalgia Story Medical Authority And Women'S Worlds Of Pain by Kristin K. Barker

The Fibromyalgia Story Medical Authority And Women'S Worlds Of Pain


The Fibromyalgia Story Medical Authority And Women'S Worlds Of Pain by Kristin K. Barker

More than six million Americans aEURO most of them women aEURO have been diagnosed with the controversial medical disorder fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Because of the absence of definitive physiological markers, a well-understood cause, or effective treatment, FMS is controversial. Many have questioned if FMS is a aEUROoerealaEURO illness or if women sufferers are modern-day hysterics. Amidst the controversy, millions of women live with their very real symptoms. Rather than taking sides in the heated FMS debate, Kristin Barker explains how FMS represents an awkward union between the practices of modern medicine and the complexity of womenaEURO(t)s pain. Using interviews with sufferers, Barker focuses on how the idea of FMS gives meaning and order to women beset by troubling symptoms, self-doubt, and public skepticism. This book offers a fresh look at a controversial diagnosis, avoids overly simplistic explanations, and empathizes with sufferers without losing sight of medicineaEURO(t)s power over our lives.


The Fibromyalgia Story authoritatively explores the roles doctors and patients played in 'discovering

; explains why, overwhelmingly, fibromyalgia affects white working-class women; and analyzes why doctors have ignored this basic demographic fact. Written with an amazingly evenhanded approach, it is an important contribution to scholarship on medicalization; illness experience; identity construction; and the intersections of race, class, and gender. -Rose Weitz, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies, Arizona State University, and author of Life With AIDS and Rapunzel's Daughters: What Women's Hair Tells Us About Women's Lives Barker tells a story of the interface between the biomedical community and the fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) community. In giving voice to women who are suffering from FMS, she shows how the facts of how women live their lives are often obscured by physicians and researchers in a drive to adapt FMS to a biomedical model where it clearly does not fit well. This failing has led to the development and perpetuation of an institutionalized FMS community of sufferers, with both positive and negative consequences. Ultimately, Barker provides insight into the failings of biomedicine thus far to improve FMS-related quality of life that should guide researchers towards integrating social and cultural factors into the study of FMS physiology. -Leslie J. Crofford, M.D., Gloria W. Singletary Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Chief, Division of Rheumatology, Director, Center for the Advancement of Women's Health, University of Kentucky Kristin Barker presents us with one of those rare sociological studies of the experience of illness by examining how women manage a common but contested pain syndrome called fibromyalgia. Based on in-depth interviews with sufferers and an analysis of medical and non-medical literature, Barker increases our understanding of the gendered construction of the disorder and how sufferers manage their symptoms, seek legitimacy, and develop an illness identity in the context of a doubting medical world. This book should interest medical sociologists and practitioners as well as people with fibromyalgia and their families. -Peter Conrad, Harry Coplan Professor of Social Sciences, Brandeis University

About the Author

Kristin K. Barker is Associate Professor of Sociology at Oregon State University.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th June 2005


Kristin K. Barker

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Temple University Press,U.S.


272 pages


Musculoskeletal medicine



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