The Language of Illness
Imprint: Liberties Press
224 Pages, 6 x 9 in
- October 2020
- In Stock
In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Fergus Shanahan, an eminent gastroenterologist who has practiced in Ireland, the United States and Canada, and published widely around the world, looks at memoirs of illness, and outlines the lessons we can learn from a better understanding of the words we use to describe illness. He looks at the ways in which language can act as a barrier with regard to illness, and proposes practical ways in which we can dismantle these barriers. The book is written for the general reader: as Dr. Shanahan puts it himself, he is “enough of an expert to be wary of experts."
The Language of Illness, part manifesto, part memoir, and part instruction manual, is an appeal for the use of clearer, more holistic language, by all those involved with, and affected by, illness. Like the great American poet-doctor William Carlos Williams, he aims to help us develop a new language by means of which we can develop a new way of living with illness –which is an integral part of the human condition. Put simply, it is a book for all those who care about caring.
“This book is a treasure, compulsory and compulsive reading for everyone in the caring way – and isn’t that all of us? Caring, or being cared for. Doctor Shanahan, with precision, humour and concern, examines ‘the words that turn people into patients . . . healing words, hurting words’. He demonstrates, with wisdom and learning and humanity, how patient and doctor, speaking the same language, work better together. . . . An accessible, inviting book: warm, empathetic and deeply compassionate.”
~John F. Deane is a poet, and founder of Poetry Ireland and the Dedalus Press
“In the midst of global pandemic, health and disease have dominated the airwaves and daily conversation. . . . There could be no better time to publish a book exploring how we talk about disease and illness. . . . In a thought-provoking and engaging book, pitched at ‘anyone who cares about caring’, Shanahan has drawn on his experience as a physician and father to a seriously ill son. He combines a rich selection of literature . . . to reflect on how the language we use shapes doctor-patient interactions, patient and carer experiences, public health, and health-systems management. . . . a sweeping tour de force.” ~Dr Deirdre Bennett is Head of the Medical Education Unit in University College Cork
“Absolutely delightful . . . . Elegant, wears its considerable learning lightly . . . and [constitutes] a classic addition to the literature.” ~Prof. Desmond O’Neill is Director of the National Office for Traffic Medicine
“The Language of Illness is a ‘must read’ for all medical students and doctors in training, and for medical educators. Professor Shanahan discusses, in a warm, insightful and humorous manner, the particularly challenging topic of how and why doctors, health-service managers and policymakers continue to communicate poorly with patients. Drawing on a lifetime of experience as a physician, he offers invaluable, realistic and practical solutions as to how we can adapt the language that we use to improve our ‘conversation time’ with patients.” ~––Prof. Deirdre McGrath, Head of School, School of Medicine, University of Limerick
“an impressive work that cuts through the dross of medical parlance and captures our everyday tragedies with compassion” ~Prof. Garret A. Fitzgerald, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
“In his excellent book . . . Professor Fergus Shanahan provides an important explanation for the frequent failure of generally well-intentioned medics to provide a better caring experience for their patients. . . . Beyond the carefully and elegantly constructed arguments, it provides a wonderful anthology of writing about life, health, dying and caring. . . . It should be on the mandatory reading list for students of medicine, nursing and all caring professions, and will be of enormous interest to patients and their family members.” ~Professor John Crown is consultant medical oncologist at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Dublin. He served in Seanad Éireann from 2011 to 2016.
“A scholarly yet accessible dissection of the toxic influence of language on medical care, this book should be mandatory reading for all healthcare professionals, and also for all patients and future patients." ~––Liam Farrell, medical journalist, former GP and author of Are You the F**king Doctor?
––Liam Farrell, medical journalist, former GP and author of Are You the F**king Doctor?
“The Language of Illness is one of the most worthwhile books I've seen in medicine. It is wise, bright, witty, and brimming with insights. . . . The epilogue, and its matching discussion earlier – not to mention the brief appearance by Madonna – is worth the price of admission on its own.” ~John Sotos, MD, author of The Physical Lincoln
“This book . . . is an exercise in erudition that acquaints the reader with the often over-looked thoughts of medical authors, as well as providing the enlightening perspective on the doctor’s lack of communicative skill as portrayed in the great works of literature. . . . A fascinating
read. . . . A tour de force.” ~Eoin O’Brien, author and clinical scientist
“A fascinating and sensitive exploration of the difference between the ‘illness language’ characteristic of a patient’s subjective awareness of their illness, suffering and fear, and the medical practitioner’s objective consideration of their disease. . . . I recommend it strongly, not just to front-line medical personnel, but also to the rest of us who are, or will, sooner or
later, be, ill.” ~Patrick Masterson, Emeritus Professor, University College Dublin