More than six million Americans - most of them women - have been diagnosed with the controversial medical disorder fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Because of the absence of definitive physiological markers, a well-understood cause, or effective treatment, FMS is controversial. Many have questioned if FMS is a "real" illness or if women sufferers are modern-day hysterics. Amidst the controversy, millions of women live with their very real symptoms. Rather than taking sides in the heated FMS debate, Kristin Barker explains how FMS represents an awkward union between the practices of modern medicine and the complexity of women's pain. Using interviews with sufferers, Barker focuses on how the idea of FMS gives meaning and order to women beset by troubling symptoms, self-doubt, and public skepticism. This book offers a fresh look at a controversial diagnosis, avoids overly simplistic explanations, and empathizes with sufferers without losing sight of medicine's power over our lives.
Introduction; Chapter 1. The Diagnostic Making of FMS; Chapter 2. The Woman Problem and the Feminization of FMS; Chapter 3. Similar-But-Different: The FMS Illness Experience; Chapter 4. The Symptomatic Self and the Life World; Chapter 5. In Search of Meaning; Chapter 6. Diagnostic Transformations; Chapter 7. Self-Help and the Making of an FMS Illness Identity; Chapter 8. Ties That Bind and the Problem That Had No Name; Conclusion ; Appendix A. The FMS Biomedical Literature; Appendix B. The Interviews