Medicine finally has discovered fatigue. Recent articles about
various diseases conclude that fatigue has been underrecognized,
underdiagnosed, and undertreated. Scholars in the social sciences
and humanities have also ignored the phenomenon. As a result, we
know little about what it means to live with this condition,
especially given its diverse symptoms and causes. Emily K. Abel
offers the first history of fatigue, one that is scrupulously
researched but also informed by her own experiences as a cancer
survivor. Abel reveals how the limits of medicine and the American
cultural emphasis on productivity intersect to stigmatize those
with fatigue. Without an agreed-upon approach to confirm the
problem through medical diagnosis, it is difficult to convince
others that it is real. When fatigue limits our ability to work,
our society sees us as burdens or worse.
With her engaging and informative style, Abel gives us a synthetic history of fatigue and elucidates how it has been ignored or misunderstood, not only by medical professionals but also by American society as a whole.