The episode of True Life I chose to analyze was True Life- “I have an embarrassing medical condition,” which documented the life an 18 year old girl, Alyssa, who was living with tourette syndrome. Alyssa has what are referred to as “self-injurous tics” which cause her to choke and hit herself, and she also can lose consciousness. She takes 5 different types of medication on a daily basis for her tourette syndrome, and also for depression and anxiety. Alyssa has absolutely no control over her body, and her tics can come at any time without warning, making it very difficult for her to function every day. Allyssa’s narrative shifts from a chaos to a quest narrative. She has to live her life with people constantly staring at her and laughing at her when she has her tics, and she has a difficult time being accepted and understood by people. Alyssa explains in her episode that many people who meet her and observe her tics, believe that she is faking her illness, and therefore, they either make fun of her or just ignore her. There does appear to be a stigma associated with tourette syndrome in that people view people with this illness as “faking” and they believe they are seeking attention, when really these people cannot control themselves at all. Although Allyssa takes medication for her illness, doctors say their is not much that can be done to really control her tics, and so she must learn to live with them. Alyssa does have an extremely positive outlook on life while dealing with such an embarrassing illness; she states that you cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can control how you react to it, and she chooses to live as normal of a life as possible and not let her illness control her. Allyssa acknowledges that her medical condition is abnormal, she understands that she needs to take medication in order to control her symptoms, and she is excused from certain responsibilities that may cause her to have tics (Lecture 4.1). Illness narratives are extremely useful for both the patient and family because it allows them to better understand what the patient is going through and how their life with be impacted by the particular illness. The family will feel a sense of relief knowing how to cope with the illness (Lecture 4.2).
Lecture 4.1 Experiencing Illness. Week 4: Experimental Approach.” ANP 204 course website. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us14/week-4-lecture-1
Lecture 4.2 Illness Narratives. Week 4: Experimental Approach. ANP 204 course website.http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us14/week-4-lecture-2/
MTV. “True Life: I Have an embarrassing medical condition”. Director Carlos Puga. MTV video, 39:28. May 03, 2011. http://www.mtv.com/shows/truelife/true-life-i-have-an-embarrassing-medical-condition/1662862/playlist/#id=1662862