Views & Reviews Medical classics

Illness as Metaphor; AIDS and its Metaphors

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 06 September 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:517
  1. James Curran, GP locum, Glasgow
  1. jdcur{at}

    It is not uncommon for people to write about their experience of experience. After the US writer Susan Sontag underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer, however, she took a different approach. Illness as Metaphor examines in more general than personal terms how society regards illness and being ill, in particular “the punitive or sentimental fantasies concocted about that situation.”

    In a sense she still writes from her experience in focusing on descriptions of cancer (with some comparisons with tuberculosis, the disease that killed her father), though drawing examples mainly from Western …

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