No. 1 (February 9, ); Vol. XXV, No. 2 (Feb- ruary 23, ). Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data. Sontag, Susan. Illness as metaphor. PN In Susan Sontag wrote Illness as Metaphor, a classic work described by Newsweek as "one of the most liberating books of its time." A cancer patient. Sontag, Susan Sontag argues against the use of illness as metaphor. In the 19th century, tuberculosis was considered a disease of.


Author: Admin
Country: Myanmar
Language: English
Genre: Education
Published: 22 August 2015
Pages: 200
PDF File Size: 27.74 Mb
ePub File Size: 36.16 Mb
ISBN: 136-1-57218-764-3
Downloads: 71967
Price: Free
Uploader: Admin


With the coming of the twentieth century the myth and the metaphors and attitudes formerly attached to TB has now been apportioned among two diseases: Other features of TB go to cancer - the agonies that can't be romanticized.

Not TB but insanity is the current vehicle of our secular myth of self-transcendence. Etymology - 'Cancer' is imagined as malevolent growth, crawling or creeping like a crab and its etymology comes from this image. Tuberculosis was also once considered a type of abnormal extrusion: Symptoms - transparency vs opaqueness - While TB is understood to be, from early on, rich in visible symptoms progressive emaciation, coughing, languidness, fever susan sontag illness as metaphor, and can be suddenly and dramatically revealed the blood on the handkerchiefin cancer the main symptoms are thought to be, characteristically, invisible susan sontag illness as metaphor until the last stage, when it is too late.

Cancer has stages rather than a "gallop". Cancer works slowly, insidiously.

Every characterization of cancer describes it as slow, growing menacingly and out-of-control, though this metaphor has speeded up since Sontag's days.

Economics - TB is often imagined as a disease of poverty and deprivation-of thin garments, thin bodies, unheated rooms, poor hygiene, inadequate food.

In contrast, cancer is a disease of middle-class life, a disease associated with excess.


Rich countries have the highest cancer rates, the toxic effluvia of the industrial economy that creates affluence Pain - TB is thought to be relatively painless. Cancer is thought to be, invariably, excruciatingly painful.

Illness as Metaphor

TB is thought to provide an easy death, while cancer is the spectacularly wretched one. TB is, metaphorically, a disease of the soul. Cancer, as a disease that can strike anywhere, is a disease of the body.

  • Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag
  • Illness as Metaphor - Wikipedia
  • Frequently bought together

Of course, many tuberculars died in terrible pain, and some people die of cancer feeling little or no pain to the end; the poor and the rich both get TB and cancer; and not susan sontag illness as metaphor who has TB coughs.

But the mythology persists. The language used to describe cancer evokes an economic catastrophe - one of unregulated, abnormal, incoherent growth.

Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors: Susan Sontag: : Books

Early capitalism assumes the necessity of regulated spending, saving, accounting, discipline-an economy that depends on the rational limitation of desire.

This shows how easily we adapt our metaphors to equate our worst fears with our worst illnesses.


Sontag goes on to explain that, the controlling metaphors in descriptions of cancer are, in fact, drawn not from economics but from the language of warfare: The melodramatics of the disease metaphor in modern political discourse assume a punitive notion: Sontag also mentioned how multiple studies have found a link between depression and people afflicted with cancer, which she argues is just a susan sontag illness as metaphor of the times susan sontag illness as metaphor not a reason for the disease, since in previous times physicians found that cancer patients suffered from hyperactivity and hypersensitivity, a sign of their time.

Her final argument is that metaphors are not useful for patients, since metaphors make patients feel as if their illness is due to their feelings, rather than lack of effective treatment. At the time that Sontag was writing, the fad in alternative cancer treatment was psychotherapy for the patient's supposed "cancer personality".

According to these proponents, patients brought cancer upon themselves by having a resigned, repressed, inhibited personality.