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Graphic Medicine: Depicting Invisible Illnesses in Comics

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

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abstract
Graphic medicine comics grant visibility to people with invisible illnesses, whose suffering routinely goes unseen and misunderstood by themselves and others. The term “invisible illness” refers to a wide range of conditions that place the ill in a position between an outer appearance of normalcy and an inner reality of suffering. The impact of these conditions on the ill can be hard to understand and discuss because there are no visual signs of suffering. As their pain and frustration goes unseen over time, the ill feel as invisible as their illness and report living with great uncertainty of themselves and in isolation from others as a result. This state of invisibility seriously diminishes the ill’s sense of identity while further hindering their ability to pursue or comply with medical treatments. I argue that art therapy interventions involving graphic medicine comics about invisible illnesses can help the ill externalize their uncertainty and visually contemplate their invisible suffering. Further, these comics can become useful communication tools, depicting aspects of suffering on the page that may be difficult to put into words. As a result, graphic medicine comics are valuable resources that help the invisibly ill overcome uncertainty and isolation by promoting reflection and discussion about often-misunderstood conditions, restoring confidence to the ill and fostering empathy among their support communities.
subject
Comics
Graphic Medicine
Graphic Novels
Invisible Illnesses
Mental Illnesses
contributor
Lipford, Daniel (author)
Hyde, Michael (committee chair)
Iltis, Ana (committee member)
King, Nancy (committee member)
date
2017-08-22T08:35:24Z (accessioned)
2018-08-31T08:30:09Z (available)
2017 (issued)
degree
Bioethics (discipline)
embargo
2018-08-31 (terms)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/86344 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
Graphic Medicine: Depicting Invisible Illnesses in Comics
type
Thesis

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