Thesis Defense Announcement

The College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Thesis Defense of

Brandi Barnes

for the Degree of Master of Arts

November 2, 2018 at 1:00 PM in Clement Hall, Room 203

Advisor: Carol Rambo

Defining Diagnosis: A Reflexive Account of a Chronic Dis-ease Process

ABSTRACT: This is an autoethnographic account of the experience of living with chronic illness and a liminal status. This reflexive study is divided into three parts: 1) Lupus, the defining diagnosis, 2) Dis-ease, identity and reevaluation 3) Dis-identification, chronic dis-ease, and liminality. Systemic Lupus Erythematous (SLE) is a rare yet complex disease. This illness creates a considerable global burden in terms of incidence and prevalence, economic costs, the differential impact on populations, and its capacity to compromise health-related quality of life. The etiology is constantly questioned by doctors and not readily seen; it is both contested and invisible. Patients with this illness are highly stigmatized, and their psychological welfare can become neglected in a biomedical system that does not account for the overall well-being of patients. The suffering caused by stigma can have a more negative impact on an individual than the illness itself. This case study addresses some potential consequences for an identity tarnished in this way. Misdiagnosis is sorely understudied throughout the literature. What little exists typically fails to take into account the lived experience of the patient. This study seeks to fill that gap, and most importantly, investigate the potential ramifications of a tarnished identity when the individual has been ultimately misdiagnosed. Lupus is an understudied and vastly misdiagnosed, misunderstood chronic illness. Within the spectrum of this ambiguous disease, the narrative of the sick role can change multiple times. This causes a loss of or misaligned identity that leaves the patient in a state of liminality that is as ambiguous as the illness itself. Research is sparse in addressing identity within the parameters of a misdiagnosis.