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Encounters with the Invisible: Unseen Illness, Controversy, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (MEDICAL HUMANITIES SERIES) Hardcover – 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Methodist University Press; 1 edition (2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870745042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870745041
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,353,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Campbell on May 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was diagnosed with post-viral CFS in 1988. This book is an excellent description of living with CFS except for one thing: 3/4 of marriages affected by chronic illness break up, which means that most of us don't have the live-in support system she had.

Some disbelieving doctors like to attribute CFS to "secondary gain" or enablers who allow the patient to "enjoy the sick role". Unfortunately, for many CFS patients, there's no enabler and the only thing you gain is the stress of trying to make ends meet with no income.

Wall tells of having someone run her bath, gently wash her, dress her, and help her back to bed. That's a luxury most of us don't enjoy. If I'm not well enough to cook, I don't get dinner; if I cannot safely get in and out of the tub by myself, I don't bathe (on a cold winter day when I needed a bath to warm up, I got stuck in the tub for over an hour because I lacked the strength to boost myself up and out, and there was no one to call for help).

Wall's live-in support structure allowed her to do what those of us who live alone can't: use all her energy to write a book to explain to the rest of the world what it's like to be trapped in a body and brain that don't function.

I recommend this not only to patients, but to their friends and family as one of the best patient-written books I've read.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read many books on CFS but none has moved me more deeply in more different ways than this book has. One of the above reviewers was correct; this book is a classic, probably the first literary classic of CFS. Ms Walls, a professional writer, brings all her skills to bear in describing in poignant terms the losses, frustrations and triumphs she has encountered in her several decade long experience with this disease. There is something here for everyone; besides her story the author focuses chapters on the disease's history, it's name, the ongoing research, what it tells us about the pitfalls of modern medicine and more. What I enjoyed most about this book was her fine tuned sensibility and her poetic grasp of language. She proved to be an excellant guide through the issues that the CFS patient faces in our world today. We are lucky to have this book.
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Format: Hardcover
If I could write a book about CFIDS/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, this is the book I would want to have written. It captures the feeling of what it's like to live with CFIDS/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome better than any book I've read (and I've read a lot of books about CFIDS). The author, Dorothy Wall, manages to move seamlessly between the personal and the larger political and medical issues of this debilitating chronic illness.

Wall grapples with many of the questions and issues I've thought about or have been forced to deal with, and which I'm sure many people with CFIDS will relate to. The role reversal of being better informed about CFIDS than the doctors you consult. The effect on your identity when your professional life is interrupted. Dealing with the expectations and advise of well-meaning friends and family. The way CFIDS forces you to reexamine the ethic of pushing yourself to exceed your boundaries and limitations. The desire to "pass" as a healthy person, if only briefly. The difference between accepting the realities of CFIDS and capitulating to them. The strain it puts on your closest relationships with spouse and family members when they are forced to become caregivers. The unexpected small joys and benefits that a constricted, slowed-down life can bring, like an appreciation of the beauty of a flower unfolding. The questions about what CFIDS and related illnesses may portend for our society.

Dorothy Wall's background as an editor and writer show through, in the way the writing is at once spare and lyrical. She can be poetic without being flowery. The simplicity of the writing allowed her meaning to penetrate my CFIDS brain fog, so that I didn't have to read the book in five minute increments.

Let me mention what this book ISN'T.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Dorothy Wall writes beautifully about her experience with CFIDS interweaving and illuminating her story with the historical, cultural and scientific issues surrounding the illness. With this book she effectively attacks the stigmatization of CFIDS which has led to a shameful dearth of funding for research and to a not uncommon dismissal of people with CFIDS as "lazy" or "just trying to get attention." As a person with CFIDS the ending left me hopeful that in the future the situation for people with the illness will change.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is superbly written, and seamlessly joins the author's own stuggle with CFIDS with an account of the history and politics of the illness. A must-read for every patient and his/her family.
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Format: Hardcover
As an ME/CFS person myself, I felt enormous relief as i read Dorothy Wall's 'Encounters With The Invisible: Unseen Illness, Controversy and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.'

Here is someone living the other side of the world, describing how i feel, year in, year out. She writes a wonderfully detailed account of her own experience with CFS/ME, woven together with a well researched description of the history, science, and politics of the illness.

Whether you have CFS/ME, someone you know has it , or you just want to know more about this hidden epidemic, i urge you to read this beautifully written book, a classic no less.
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