Charmaz- The Body, Identity, and Self

Charmaz The Body, - The Body Identity and Self Adapting to Impairment 95.ftheMen)oub1eday e Manage:=liffs NJ 11 the de ith that stage of lires re 1

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.ftheMen_ )oub1eday e Manage_ :=liffs, NJ: the de- ith that stage of lires re- ? 1 an iII- ; impli- 1. and the I Oxford .. 11 The Body, Identity, and Self: Adapting to Impairment Kathy Charmaz This selection traces relationships between body alld self Chrollic illness {orces new rela- tiol1ships betweell body al1d self A tilllctiollil1g body ca 11 flO 10llgel- be taken {or gral1ted. Social and personal idaltity are concepts that link the relationships between bod,v and self As Kathy Channaz poi11ls out here, the body is not the same as the self Thoughts, images, and {eel- ings about ones body may affect the self, a/zd social idel1li{icatiol1s o{ the body often shape persOlwl identifications. Preswnablv healthv people more or less assume bodily {u'nctioning and a hamlOny betweell body a/1d sel{-more so when health and{itness bloom, less so when COl1.cems about appearance and appeal {lood consciousness. In contrast, that hannonv be- tween body and sel{ becomes problel;latic when people are chronically ill. This paper dravvs explicitly upon a symbolic interactiol1ist perspective, which emphasizes the meanings and intemions people construct through their interactions. Prior exposure to language and gesture-social and cultural ex- perience-is crucial in this perspective. Sym- bolic interactionists assume that people draw upon their experience, including their knowl- edge o{ language and gesture, as they interpret their lives and worlds. Because hwnan beings have language, minds, and selves, we can evaluate ourselves as we would any other ob- ject in our worlds. In this perspective, we are active agents in creating ouractions and in de- fining ourselves. wok {or how the interview The Body, Identity, and Self Adapting to Impairment 95 participants reevaluate their bodies alld them- selves as they experience altered bodies. Chronically ill people, like anyone else, may observe how others view them but re{use to share that view. Here, the social identi{ication is il1.congruent with th.e personal identif'ica- tion. Note the conditions under which these intelview participa11lS accepted or rejected the social identifications thrust upon them. Surelv experiencing bodily feelings stlch as {atigue 01' discomfort so great that they cannot be ignored affects how individuals respond to social iden- tificatiorls. In keeping with the emphasis 011 emergetlt processes in symbolic interactiol1isl11, Chmmaz poi11lS out that chronically people form idel1tily goals ill relation to their health as well as to theil' lives. These goals may shi{t aI1d change as their experiences change and as they I-eil1.terpret their lives. Serious chronic illness undermines earlier assumptions about bodily functioning, the relation between body and self. and sense of wholeness of bodv and self (cf. Burv 1982; Brodv 1987; Cha~maz 1991; 1994a;'1994b; Gadow 1982; Kestenbaum 1982; Monks and Frankenberg n.d.; Murphy 1987) ....To ex- plicate how the body. identity, and self inter- sect in illness, I outline Olle mode of living with impairment or loss of bodily function: adapting. By adapting, I mean altering life
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course GERO 166 at San Jose State University .

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Charmaz The Body, - The Body Identity and Self Adapting to Impairment 95.ftheMen)oub1eday e Manage:=liffs NJ 11 the de ith that stage of lires re 1

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