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Disruptive illness contexts and liminality in the accounts of young people with type 1 diabetes.

Authors
  • Sanders, Tom1
  • Elliott, Jackie2
  • Norman, Paul3
  • Johnson, Barbara3
  • Heller, Simon2
  • 1 Health and Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.
  • 2 Academic Unit of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Oncology & Metabolism, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.
  • 3 Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Sociology of health & illness
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2019
Volume
41
Issue
7
Pages
1289–1304
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.12906
PMID: 30968432
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

We utilise Bury's (1982) biographical disruption to examine young people's experiences of type 1 diabetes. Our findings show that young adults adopted various 'subject positions' across different illness contexts. The subject positions deployed are intended to produce a particular kind of normal embodied identity unaffected by diabetes. First, participants concealed their illness in public spaces and challenged cultural stereotypes of diabetes to maintain a normal illness biography. Disruption was ever present and required careful negotiation to avoid exposure of illness in public. Young adults upheld a 'normal public presentation'. Second, they resisted the medical system's pressure to adhere to glucose targets asserting and maintaining a subject position of 'independent and autonomous young adults'. Here, disruption was transient and temporary, present in the clinic but not always beyond. It remained in the background for much of the time until it was reinforced by parents or at meal times. Third, young adults acquired a 'pragmatic subject position' with diabetes viewed as complex but manageable, no longer a target for resistance. Frank's (1995) 'narrative restitution' is adopted to describe the transition to life with 'normal' illness. We argue that illness experience was 'liminal' and reflected the subject positions adopted by young adults. © 2019 Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness.

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