PWR Research paper

PWR Research paper - Gupta 1 Ankur Gupta Professor Marconi...

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Gupta 1 Ankur Gupta Professor Marconi PWR 1 2 December 2004 A Disease To Remember Aside from the fact that they are both human, I would be extremely hesitant to make any other comparisons between my late grandmother and the late Ronald Reagan. One was a homemaker for her entire adult life in India and the other was the former president of the United States. They did share another common trait, however, and that was the affliction of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease was once an extremely obscure disease, whose intricacies most doctors did not even know. Thirty years ago, the everyday, afflicted laypersons generally suffered one of two unfortunate fates. Either he knew very little of the disease and, thus, attributed any of its symptoms to normal memory lapses, or he knew enough about it but was too embarrassed to seek medical attention. The latter was a direct result of the intense stigma associated with the condition which society equated to aging, an important issues when examining the different ways in which Alzheimer’s is perceived in America today. The stigma associated with Alzheimer’s can be likened to that of AIDS and cancer. In the essays Illness as a Metaphor and AIDS and its Metaphors , Susan Sontag talks about the exacerbation of disease by the societal misinterpretation of it. She claims that, through popular metaphor, the afflicted are further traumatized and thus suffer more severe consequences. This affects how patients are able to cope with and treat their
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Gupta 2 condition. In reference to her own cancer, Sontag states that “…the very reputation of this illness added to the suffering of those who have it… cancer was regarded as an irrational revulsion, as a diminution of the self” (Sontag 100). Sontag focuses on this phenomenon because of all the various stressors she endured while barely recovering and surviving her bout with cancer. She asserts that cancer patients almost always feel doomed to die because of the way the media can misconstrue and misrepresent an illness. Similarly, in regards to Alzheimer’s , “it is a terminal illness, but unlike cancer there is a lot more stigma attached to it" ( The Sentinel ). Opinions such as this are abound in the media and popular culture and ultimately contribute to stereotyping and stigmatization of Alzheimer’s victims. Illness-related stigma has been a problem ever since the first Hippocratic Oath was taken, and as a result, throughout history, society usually tries to find a cure or alleviate the stigma to break the vicious cycle since it is usually the source of the stigma in the first place. For Alzheimer’s specifically, significant progress has been made in research but not enough to completely dispel the stigma attached to it. The main factor involved in the current portrayal of Alzheimer’s is the amount of media attention it receives. This is due to the attention given to celebrities with the condition, the fact that the baby boomers are
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