Whilst the body has recently assumed greater sociological significance, there has been less engagement in social work and social care on the bodily experience of health, illness and disease. This innovative volume redresses the balance by exploring chronic illness and social work, through the specific lens of autoimmunity, engaging in wider debates around vulnerability, resistance and the lived experience of ongoing ill-health.
Moving beyond existing conceptualisations of vulnerability as an issue of mental distress, ageing, child protection and poverty, Price and Walker demonstrate the role that society has to play in actively engaging the physical body, rather than working around and through it. The book focuses on auto-immune conditions such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma. Conditions like these allow for an exploration of the materiality of illness which exacerbates social and economic vulnerability and may precipitate personal and social crises, requiring a variety of interventions and support. The risks and challenges associated with chronic illness include disruptions to a sense of self and identity, altered relationships and the renegotiation of roles and responsibilities in a variety of relationships in addition to an economic impact, with the potential for disruption to employment status and financial insecurity.
This text opens up a range of debates around some of the central concerns of the social work profession, including vulnerability, ill-health, and independence. It will be of interest to scholars and students of social work, nursing, disability studies, medicine and the social sciences.
Autoimmune conditions are cruel, hard to recognise and harder still to live with.. The authors speak from their own experiences, enriching their deft weaving of theory, practice and research. The result is a real and rounded account. For social work and social care practitioners there is much food for thought in the authors’ perceptions of social work as a ‘body blind profession’ that needs to ‘think body’ if it is to carve out a space in which it can support people living with autoimmune disorders such as Lupus.
Jill Manthorpe, Professor of Social Work, King’s College London
A fascinating insight into the neglected area of auto immune illness. The authors skillfully weave together personal experience and scholarly research to address the complex ways in which these conditions are experienced and understood.
Julia Twigg, Professor of Social Policy and Sociology, University of Kent
Introduction 1. 'I am My Own Worst Enemy'- Autoimmunity: Diseases of the 'Self' 2. Diagnostic Vertigo: Naming the Illness Experience 3. Patients, Professionals and the Clinical Encounter: Making the Connections 4. A Life Lived with Lupus 5. Foreclosed Furtures and Lost Pasts: Reconstituting a Salvaged Self 6. Digital Illness 7. Situating the Family in the Experience of Chronic Illness 8. Body Work in Social Work 9. Conclusion 10. Appendix