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CHAPTER 11 The Final Meeting A Tale of Decline and a Denial The myths of medicine's infallibility and beneficence shattered, S. was finally able to see what had been happening all those months. Her newly acute vision was enabled by an underlying transformation in her gender identity. We have seen how, early in treatment, S.'s critical feminist voice was silenced by a highly controlling physician. Desperate for help with her illnesses,she unconsciously adopted a "feminine" identity with which she sought to obtain medical care, not through the direct means of voice and action but through indirect "girl games" of sweet self-subordination and silent consternation. That feminine self lacked the political, intellectual , and emotional resources needed to resist the encroachments of biomedical power on the patient's body and life. Resistance had to emerge from another more "feminist" identity. Mercifully, S.'s verbally assertive and politically aware gender identity reappeared now because crisis was imminent—the feminine self was dying—and the emotional, intellectual, and political resources with which to recompose such a self were now at hand. Armed with such weapons, the "feminist" S. not only openly resisted biomedical authority by "speaking truth to power" in a final meeting with her doctor; she pressed on, beyond resistance, to undertake the publicly political act of writing this book. This chapter tells the story of that final, high-drama meeting that S. staged with Dr. D. It relates S.'s sad yet angry tale of how her life had come undone and D.'s dogged refusal to hear her pain and his resolute denial of responsibility for anything that had gone wrong. Freshly empowered , S. was trying to talk a new language of the body in medicine and in society. But the doctor knew only the language of biomedicine— a language that sees itself as speaking the Only Truth—and could not or would not hear her words. It was not only the conceptual apparatus of biomedicine that kept D. from hearing S.'s critique of his handiwork, however. Although he probably was not fully conscious of them, he had real professional, material, and legal interests in not hearing what S. had to say. Dr. D. had every reason for not recognizing his mistakes. 257 chapter 11 258 / Rebellion and Self-Renewal Preparing for the Big Meeting: The Resistant Self Is Reborn S. would be in California for ten days in mid-November. On one of those days she planned to flyup to Seattle for an appointment with Dr. D. The twelve days between the visits with Dr. K. and Dr. D. were filled with revelations and transformations. S.found the critical voice that had been silenced. She developed the mettle to talk back to the doctor who had unwittingly done her such harm. And she plotted out what she would say at that much-anticipated appointment. Tools of Self-Empowerment S. was able to restore her earlier, more politically aware identity quite quickly because it had never fully disappeared; it had only been submerged , waiting for an opportune moment to regain expression. Equally important, over the months that S. had passed under the "gaze" of Dr. D., she had been quietly accumulating a wealth of intellectual and emotional resources with which to fashion that newly outspoken, resistant self. Crucial tools of empowerment included Dr. K.'s gender theory of chronic pain as well as wider scholarly critiques of science and medicine that supported and augmented it. S.'s power toolbox also contained the anger that had been nurtured by her friendships with other patients and the information and insights she had recorded in her diary and daily charts. The theories and data provided the intellectual means with which to create another story about her body, as well as the confidence to challenge her doctor on his own turf. The long-suppressed anger gave her the energy and animus to do what she had to do. Getting Angry, Plotting Strategy After eight months of suppressing her concerns or expressing them obliquely, S.finallyallowed herself to vent the anger that had been seething below the surface of her ever-pleasant exterior. Still lacking access to the object of that anger, she filled her notebook with the rage that came pouring out of her soul. Although that fury had been dress rehearsed in her spring conversations with friends, the intensity of the feelings that now bubbled to the surface surprised even her. "HOW DARE YOU?" she scrawled in huge black...


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MARC Record
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