November - December
The Little Yoga book
By Erika Dillman
1999, Warner Books, $9.99
a person with
CFIDS (PWC), this book introduces readers to the ancient art of balancing mind, body and spirit. Dillman
gives an account of her struggle with her illness and how yoga helped her relax, regain some movement
and get back in touch with her body again. She stresses that the best way to learn yoga is from an experienced
teacher; the book's guidelines on poses, breathing exercises and simple workouts are intended to help
with practice at home.
The instruction is simple and easy-to-follow and there is an entire section
for beginners. A description of each yoga move is accompanied by a list of benefits and illus-trative
pictures, as well as tips on how to ensure that you are doing it right and how it should feel. Particularly
important for PWCs, she includes cautions about which can cause dizziness or should not be undertaken
if you have back or joint problems. She also includes a helpful description of what different actions
do for the body and pictures of the right and wrong way to move.
Illness as Metaphor
by B.E. Synhorst, MSW
1990 reprint addition, Doubleday Books, $12.95
itself. When modern medicine does not know the cause or the cure for an illness, it is attributed to psychological
factors. PWCs who have been stigmatized in this manner can find comfort in this classic. Susan Sontag,
diagnosed in 1976 with cancer and a poor prognosis, is still alive today. She wrote this essay in response
to the medical professionís attribution of cancer to particular personality types, particularly those
who repress their emotions.
Sontag examines the reaction to cancer, emphasizing that "theories
that diseases are caused by mental states and can by cured by will power will always be an index of how
much is not understood about the physical terrain of disease." She proposes that what she calls "psychologizing"
illness "weakens the patientís ability to understand the range of plausible medical treatment" and actually
directs him or her away from such treatment.
Myths about illness die hard, Sontag notes, especially
before the discovery of effective treatments. She points out that misperceptions about tuberculosis (thought
to be due to "artistic and sensitive dispositions") continued until the discovery of streptomycin in 1944.
account should provide a measure of vindication and hope for PWCs, as research moves ahead to identify
diagnostic tests and a cure.