Contested Illness: Managing the Uncertainities of Gulf-War Illness
Based on observation and in-depth interviews with fifty-five respondents, we provide a detailed analysis of the Gulf War illness experience. All chronically ill people experience troublesome physical symptoms, but most reasonably expect to receive medical answers and treatment, in addition to the support of family, friends, employers, and coworkers. This research addresses a circumstance where neither sick people nor the medical establishment has clear answers to the basic etiology and treatment of illness. Consequently, many veterans endure doubt, threats to their credibility, and intensified stigma. The resulting ambiguity and stigma initiate efforts to redefine and renegotiate the illness experience. Drawing heavily from the thick descriptions provided by Gulf War veterans and their spouses, we document assaults on the physical body, emotional stability, social status, and selfhood, as well as negative effects on social relations. We also examine how institutional barriers influence the contested illness experience.
Sociology and Corrections
Thomas Shriver and Dennis Waskul. 2006. "Contested Illness: Managing the Uncertainities of Gulf-War Illness." Symbolic Interaction, 29 (4): 465-486.
Link to Publisher Version (DOI)
Publisher's Copyright and Source
Copyright © 2006 by the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. Article published by the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction/John Wiley & Sons in Symbolic Interaction, volume 29, issue number 4, Fall 2006, pages 465-486. Available online on December 22, 2011: