Immigrant women speak of chronic illness: the social construction of the devalued self*


  • Joan M Anderson RN PhD

    1. Professor and National Health Research Scholar, University of British Columbia, School of Nursing, T 206–2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 2B5, Canada
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  • *

    An earlier version of this paper was read at the society Applied Arthology 1900 Annual Meeting, York, Bngknd


This inquiry into the existential experience of chronic illness by immigrant women begins from a phenomenological perspective, and proceeds to examine the context in which women's expenences are embedded It is argued that multiple factors influence the ability to manage illness Not least among them are the emotions that are an integral part of daily existence, and the sense of self that is constructed during the course of a chronic illness These emotions, and the definitions of self embodied within the illness experience, are produced in ongoing social interactions For the immigrant woman, the difficulties in living with a chronic illness are exacerbated by the experience of uprooting from her homeland and resettling in a new country She must deal with her marginality, social isolation and alienation in a foreign culture The feeling of being devalued arises not only from the chronic illness expenence, but also from the definition of self that is constructed in dealing with the migration expenence The implications that this research study has for the profession of nursing are discussed.