Younger women feel less shame in "coming out" about
a whole range of medical problems. Starting out life with a higher status in
society than our mothers, and not feeling as obligated to "prove
ourselves" as equals to men, we are more willing to discuss
"weaknesses." For a generation that has come of age with women
speaking out about sexual abuse and assault, sexual preference, and (previously
stigmatized) breast cancer, speaking out about chronic pain seems only natural.
Politically speaking, we are also more secure than past generations to discuss these issues because of less of a risk of damaging the women's movement. In the 1970s, the women's health movement mainly focused on women's physical strengths, at a time when they had to prove them as "equals" to men, such as with promoting women's sports and stressing the "truth" of the women's bodies (when doctors were treating natural experiences like menopause and childbirth as "diseases" needing heavy medication and dangerous procedures).
In the past several years, we have seen this beginning trickle of women "coming out" about stigmatized invisible health issues of all kinds:
A New Activist Movement (Depression's Stepchild) (chapter
Reflecting a general social movement to begin to address such problems, Congress has declared 2000-2010 "The Decade of Pain Control and Awareness." This enhanced social focus on chronic pain follows a general period of growing awareness on a related issue: depression. Like with depression in the 1990s, campaigns are now beginning to take hold that portray the problem as a neurological illness, and not as a moral failing or metaphor for a psychological conflict.
The source list at the end of the book includes a growing number of pain-advocacy groups. Some of the leading ones are the American Chronic Pain Foundation (theacpa.org) and the American Pain Foundation (painfoundation.org).
From the preface to All In My Head, pages ix - xvi. Copyright Paula Kamen 2005. All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Da Capo Press.
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