The Shared Experience Of Illness
Stories of Patients, Families, and Their Therapists
In the narrative of every human life and family, illness is a prominent character. Even if we have avoided serious illness ourselves, we cannot escape its reach into our circle of family and friends. Illness brings us closer to one another through caregiving and separates us through disability and death, yet little attention has been paid to personal and family illness in psychotherapy. Rather, therapists tend to focus on the psychosocial realm, leaving the biological realm to other physicians and nurses. Susan H. McDaniel, Jeri Hepworth, and William J. Doherty invited therapists who work with individuals and families experiencing chronic illness and disability to describe clinical cases that illustrate their approach to medical family therapy. Contributors then were asked to share a personal story about their experiences with illness, and to explain how those experiences affect the way they work with their clients. Vivid case studies dealing with a range of illnesses, including cancer infertility, schizophrenia, AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and multiple sclerosis, show how the therapists’ own experiences of illness are relevant to their care of others-and how these experiences can be used to form a healing bond in therapy. Poignant, honest, and illuminating, The Shared Experience of Illness allows us to understand more fully the relationship between the personal and the professional.