Illness as Metaphor

Illness as Metaphor



The Pequod Review:

At its core, Susan Sontag's Illness as Metaphor explores how diseases like cancer and TB are often assumed to reflect the personalities of the ill themselves:

With the modern diseases, the romantic idea that the disease expresses the character is invariably extended to assert that the character causes the disease—because it has not expressed itself. Passion moves inward, striking and blighting the deepest cellular recesses.

Sontag's scattered anecdotes don't really prove her thesis, but as with all of her works she makes a number of interesting observations: 

Illness is the night side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.