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‘Idle Devils’ and ‘Household Engineers’: Identity in Chronic Widespread Pain

Richardson, Jane C., Ong, Bie Nio and Sim, Julius (2004) ‘Idle Devils’ and ‘Household Engineers’: Identity in Chronic Widespread Pain. In: Narrative, Memory & Identity: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 183-191.

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      Chronic widespread pain, in which pain is experienced in multiple bodily
      areas, is estimated to affect between 4.7% and 11.2% of the population but
      little is known about the experiences of this group of people. Previous research
      on chronic illness has offered insights into the ways in which sufferers attempt
      to construct new identities or maintain old ones, which may be relevant to the
      experience of people with chronic widespread pain. This paper is based on
      ongoing research which uses in-depth interviews, diaries and family member
      interviews to explore the experiences of this group of people. The paper uses
      the accounts of two men and their spouses to explore the ways in which key
      features of chronic widespread pain may influence identity. For Harry, the
      invisibility of pain raises possible accusations of ‘idleness’ or malingering,
      leading to attempts to maintain identity as a worker, despite the uncertainties of
      a chronic condition. Harry attempts to reduce the impact of his illness on his
      identity, through presenting himself as part of the wider group of the
      unemployed, leading to additional tensions. In contrast, Duncan creates a new
      identity as a ‘household engineer’, demonstrating his physical competence and
      control over aspects of his condition through performance of household chores.
      He, and his wife, present his pain onset as a positive opportunity to renegotiate
      their roles within the family. The accounts of Harry and Duncan provide
      insight into the experiences of living with chronic widespread pain and the
      different ways in which lost identities can be recreated.

      Item Type: Book Chapter
      Additional Information: Copyright for chapters remain with individual authors at all times and permission should be sought from the author for any reproduction other than for personal use.
      Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
      H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
      Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences > Narrative and Memory Research Group > Narrative and Memory Research Group Annual Conference
      School of Human and Health Sciences
      Related URLs:
      Depositing User: Cherry Edmunds
      Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2009 09:41
      Last Modified: 30 Jul 2010 14:14


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