- The negative side of independence: an exploration of the self and others
- Medische Antropologie
- Volume | Issue number
- 24 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
When I was diagnosed with a chronic and progressive muscle illness, my worst fear was of becoming dependent. I dreaded having to rely on others and not being able to do what I wanted to do. In order not to be or come across as dependent, I rejected people’s help and would not ask for it. The price I paid for this independence, however, was high. In pushing beyond my physical borders, only because I did not want to ask for or accept help from others, I strained my body. Furthermore, rejecting help not only restricted me, but also offended others. Avoiding help and striving for independence is a phenomenon I recognize not only in myself, but also among other people who suffer from a chronic illness. However, little attention is paid to the negative effects that this can have. Based on my own experiences and on those of thirty people with Multiple Sclerosis whom I interviewed for my previous research project, I suggest how approaching dependency as part of reciprocity can be fruitful, both theoretically and practically. This article is an example of autoethnography, where shifting between the individual and the cultural leads to more insights.
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