Dr. Joseph Gone discusses indigenous healing practices in HI’s Faculty Fellows Seminar on Health, Well-Being, Healing
By Saralyn McKinnon-Crowley and Clare Callahan
As an illness, cancer preserves its fundamental characteristics in spite of how cancer patients and the broader population feel about or define the illness. Cancer, in other words, is an indifferent phenomenon to the extent that how it operates is immune to the meanings one assigns to it. By contrast, an illness such as multiple personality disorder interacts with the human narratives told about it. For example, prior to approximately 1950, there were only 50 cases of multiple personality disorder in the history of medicine. In the 1990s, however, there were 50,000 cases documented in America and elsewhere. This sharp increase in the number of documented cases was arguably due to media documentation of multiple personality disorder in films such as The Three Faces of Eve (1957) and Sybil (1976). The depiction of the illness in the media, as well as the discovery of battered-child syndrome in the 1960s, created the conditions for the expression and diagnosis of multiple personality disorder. Depression may similarly interact with the narratives that are told about depression.