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Legitimacy and non-legitimacy of experiences of long-term suffering and illness


This paper discusses the legitimacy and non-legitimacy of selected experiences of long-term illness and suffering, which are, or are not, considered diseases by medical diagnoses, such as pain, chronic fatigue, and “high blood pressure” using international and national sociological and anthropological research in health. It explores their implications, reflexes and ambiguities for the identity, moral and physical suffering perceived by the subjects and in their relationship with others and with the health services. This is a text about select research on the theme. It concludes that the ill persons are moved by actions and significance about their experience with the physical and moral suffering that are, or are not, legitimate for them, but that jeopardize their lives and biographies, and are expressed in their language and emotions, reflected in their social relations and also in their identity of being, or not being, ill. The legitimacy and non-legitimacy of these experiences have implications for health care, which require further ethnographic research.

Key words
Legitimacy; Non-legitimacy; Illness experience; Qualitative research

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