AIDS and Its Metaphors
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AIDS and Its Metaphors

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  114 ratings  ·  6 reviews

In 1978 Susan Sontag wrote Illness as Metaphor, a classic work described by Newsweek as "one of the most liberating books of its time." A cancer patient herself when she was writing the book, Sontag shows how the metaphors and myths surrounding certain illnesses, especially cancer, add greatly to the suffering of patients and often inhibit them from seeking proper treatmen

Hardcover, 95 pages
Published January 1st 1989 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1988)
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Ned Rifle
Always nice to hear someone taking words seriously for a good length of time, will have to reread after having read Illness and its Metaphors.
While I love the premise of this (trying to show how public perception of diseases morphed from the cancer scare of the 60-70's into the AIDS crisis of the 80's), I found the first part of this to be fairly dated. Obviously this was published at a time when even managing HIV was essentially a non-possibility. Our understanding of and ability to manage HIV has grown exponentially in the subsequent decades (thank you, medical science), even if many of the attitudes of shame and ignorance around it...more
Michael Palkowski
Give it back to the war marker.

A brilliant essay unhinging the metaphoric language which constitutes our understanding of not only AIDS but diseases in general. Her work is fantastic at showcasing the power of language and how ideas despite their non valid, tenuous associations and dis proven quality retain for generations stigmatizing people and thus their willingness sometimes to get effective treatment due to potential "social" deaths which precede the literal physical one. Analyzing the mil...more
This essay is a good addition to works I read earlier this year in medical sociology on the construction of illness, stigma, and the role of metaphor in assigning 'blame' and/or 'foreignness' to specific maladies. Sontag argues that AIDS really brings up some atavistic attitudes in our culture, specifically those surrounding plagues of the past. Key quote:

"The age-old, seemingly inexorable process whereby diseases acquire meanings (by coming to stand for the deepest fears) and inflict stigma is...more
Effectively addresses how AIDS has been moralized. Those who are not understood are blamed for what is not understood.
No lo pude terminar. Demasiado doloroso. Algún día, quizás.
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Jewish American literary theorist, novelist, filmmaker, and feminist activist.
More about Susan Sontag...
On Photography Against Interpretation and Other Essays Regarding the Pain of Others Illness as Metaphor & AIDS and Its Metaphors The Volcano Lover: A Romance

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