I have chosen to watch “True Life: I Have Social Anxiety,” which follows two young people suffering with crippling social anxiety, Noni and Scott. Their social anxiety has affected them so much that they are unable to live normal lives.
Noni is 21 years old and still lives with her parents. She finds it hard to find and keep a job and has only one friend. Whenever she goes out in public, she feels that everyone is judging her. This has been going on her whole life. Noni tells her story has a chaos narrative. She is negative about it and feels her condition is only getting worse and that it will continue to get worse.
Scott is a 26 year old virgin who is also still living with his parents. He is barely able to leave his house and his whole life seems to revolve around the pursuit of talking to girls. He is determined to talk to girls and meet a girl. He is more positive about his condition and is determined to get better. He tells his story as a quest narrative. His illness is an opportunity to improve himself and it’s a journey.
Our culture places a very big stigma on mental illness. It is especially hard for people with mental illnesses, especially anxiety, to convey their feelings. In western medicine, if it doesn’t have a quick biomedical explanation, it is not easily understood.
Noni is less patient with medical professionals than Scott is. She is very anxious about talking to a therapist so she would rather resort to a quick fix, like medication. Scott is very determined to get treatment at any means possible. He tries a wide range of treatments to beat his anxiety, such as meditation and therapy.
The sick role is shown in this episode well. They have acknowledged that feeling anxiety and not being able to talk to people is not normal. They have sought medical professionals. They have also been excused from regular rights and responsibilities. Most normal people would be leaving on their own, but these individuals are not yet.
Illness narratives are very useful to everyone involved in the individual’s life, not just the individual suffering from the illness. It can help the individual understand his/her own illness and it can also help others understand the illness. I feel that after watching this video, I understand anxiety much more and I can relate to someone with anxiety much better. It can also help a doctor take a patient more seriously if a patient can convey their illness better.
MTV. True Life: I Have Social Anxiety. Online. Viacom International Inc., 2013.
Karim, Taz. “Lecture 4.2 Medical Anthropology: Illness Narratives.” ANP 204 Week 4 Lecture Material, Michigan State University East Lansing, MI, July 25, 2014.