Divided Bodies

Lyme Disease, Contested Illness, and Evidence-Based Medicine

By Abigail A. Dumes

Book covers divided bodies

From the publisher: In Divided Bodies, Abigail A. Dumes, AB ’04, offers an ethnographic exploration of the Lyme disease controversy that sheds light on the relationship between contested illness and evidence-based medicine in the United States. Drawing on fieldwork among Lyme patients, doctors and scientists, Dumes formulates the notion of divided bodies: she argues that contested illnesses are disorders characterized by the division of bodies of thought in which the patient’s experience is often in conflict with how it is perceived. Dumes also shows how evidence-based medicine has paradoxically amplified differences in practice and opinion by providing a platform of legitimacy on which interested parties—patients, doctors, scientists, politicians—can make claims to medical truth.

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