Type I diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes, is a less common form of the chronic illness. In this condition, the pancreas does not produce a sufficient amount of insulin to convert sugars into energy for daily use. Type I diabetes typically appears in children and adolescents. Biologically, type I diabetes is caused by the body mistakenly destroying insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Genetics and exposure to viruses play a role in the development of this disease (1). Despite the illness’s demands, a myriad of complications are attributed to type I diabetes such as heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, and osteoporosis.
Type I diabetes creates a demanding lifestyle for a patient to adhere to. He or she must take insulin daily, adhere to a strict diet and exercise plan, and monitor blood sugar. From a societal perspective, an individual hindered by so many complications is forced to slow down his life and pay attention to health on a level that most individuals do not (but maybe should). This is seen as a detriment. The affected cannot exist and operate at as fast of a pace as the rest of the population. Culturally in the United States, diabetics are viewed this way.
The culture’s attitude toward type I diabetes has little effect on the specific treatments, but attitudes of friends and families on an individual basis may make a difference. In the video, “A Day Living with Diabetes,” the eleven-year-old girl, Anna, handled her disease with knowledge and independence that must have been the result of supportive parents. She knew what her disease was and what it meant for her, and she managed to adhere to her treatment without being reminded (2). Her friends and family undoubtedly had an effect on her attitude toward her illness.
As the placebo effect illustrates, a strong association exists between belief in healing and healing itself. In the documentary, “Placebo: Cracking the Code,” the placebo was administered as an antidepressant with astounding results. After the discovery that the difference between the response of the drug and the placebo was less than two points on a clinical scale (a meaningless difference), Irvan Kirsch stated, “We can alter our experience by what we believe about it” (3). A friend of mine was cured from cancer a few years ago, and he swears that his positive attitude made “all the difference” in his experience and the time it took for him to recover.
(1) Mayo Clinic Staff. “Type I Diabetes.” Mayo Foundation for Education and Research. Accessed July 22, 2014. < http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-1-diabetes/basics/treatment/con-20019573>.
(2) “A Day Living with Diabetes.” Youtube. Viewed July 22, 2014. < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVUOIr8Etow>.
(3) “Placebo: Cracking the Code.” Youtube. Viewed July 22, 2014. < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvbQnMvhQFw>.