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CHAPTER 5 Silent Rebellion and Rage Although S. had made herself ever pleasant on the outside, on the inside she was filled with an unspeakable rage. She was angry because she desperately needed her doctor's help, but that help was delivered in a fundamentally violent way and she had to silence her concerns about that violence to receive it. Her anger about biomedicine was fed by a deeper anger about having a chronic illness that she had done nothing to deserve . Yet she could not share these feelings with her doctor, because she was deeply fearful that doing so would imperil the warm, trusting relationship on which she felt her care depended. So she fought the injustices of her world "like a girl": in private. Twice silenced in the public space of the doctor-patient relationship, S. created private spaces in which her anger and rebelliousness could be expressed. The most important of these spaces were her writing and her friendships with other patients. Bymaintaining a diary and a daily chart, S. found ways to resist the discourses of objectification and quantification and to record the "subjective" truths of her life. In her friendships with other patients she found a safe space in which to air doubts, stage defiances , and nurse her rage. During the spring S.'s writing and friendships provided emotional sustenance and deepened her understanding of her plight. In the long run, these modes of resistance would provide crucial resources that enabled her to pull herself back from the brink of madness . Though lived in anguish and confusion, these months of nonspeaking supplied rich opportunities for the psychological and political growth that allowed her to find her voice in the end. In the short run, however, these silent resistances and rebellions hurt S.'s cause more than they helped it. For they were limited forms of resistance that precluded genuine communication between patient and doctor and left the doctor's practices intact . And the anger, finding no outlet, ate away at S.'s spirit, producing symptoms of psychological distress that will be traced in a later chapter. Although S.'s silent mode of resistance followed codes of femininity learned in childhood—in particular, that open challengesto male authority 163 164 / Doing Gender are taboo—her feminist identity was not totally submerged. To the contrary , much of the content of the critiques S. and her friends developed was explicitly feminist, striking themes similar to those highlighted by the women's health movement in its early condemnations of the authoritarianism of male doctors.1 Although one gender identity remained dominant , the two coexisted, jostling around inside S. in an uneasy tension. This chapter takes us into those hiding places where S. waged her secret battles against biomedicine. In the first section we peer into her personal records and computer files, looking for resistances that never got waged. In the second section we eavesdrop on her conversations with friends, looking for rebellions that never got staged. While S.'s political options were constrained by her gender training, the reader should remember that her abilities to recognize and resist the dangers inherent in her doctor's brand of biomedicine were also compromised by the material realities of pain. In part because of her prior conditions, and in part because of the drug experiments the doctor was conducting on her body, throughout the spring her physical, emotional, and mental capacities were stretched almost beyond the limits of human endurance. These material realities of pain made it difficult for her to gain a larger perspective on her situation or to mount an effective resistance to her doctor's encroachments on her life. Writing as Resistance S. was silenced in the public space of the doctor-patient interaction, but there were other, more private spaces in which she could speak her thoughts and feelings. The most important of these spaces was her writing . From the day of the first appointment S. began keeping two records of her "adventure" with Dr. D., a medical diary and a daily chart. These records served diverse, sometimes contradictory ends. It was here, in the private space of her writing, that S. dared to articulate the tender feelings she had toward her doctor. It was here that she negotiated truces between the warring parts of herself, the part that hurt and achingly wanted his care and the part that sensed danger and urged wariness and caution. Although the diary and chart had many embedded meanings, both served important...


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