Tuesday, December 30, 2008

At the Will of the Body: Reflections of Illness by Arthur Frank (1991)

In this deeply affecting memoir, Arthur W. Frank explores the events of illness from within: the transformation from person to patient, the pain, the wonder, and the ceremony of recovery. To illuminate what illness can teach us about life, Frank draws upon his own encounters with serious illness -- a heart attack at age thirty-nine and, a year later, a diagnosis of cancer. In poignant and clear prose, he offers brilliant insights into what happens when our bodies and emotions are pushed to extremes. Ultimately, he examines what it means to be human.

This was one of the first pathographies I read, and even to day, one of the most instructive and educational.

Frank feels that “illness is an opportunity, though a dangerous one… Critical illness offers the experience of being taken to the threshold of life, from which you can see where your life could end. From that vantage point you are both forced and allowed to think in new ways about the value of your life… Illness takes away parts of your life, but in doing so it gives you the opportunity to choose the life you will lead, as opposed to living the one you have simply accumulated over the years.”

Can be purchased from Abebooks.com starting at one dollar.