IDENTITY DILEMMAS OF CHRONICALLY ILL MEN

Authors


Direct all correspondence to: Kathy Charmaz, Sonoma State University, Department of Sociology, rohnert Park, CA 94928.

Abstract

Chronic illness frequently comes to men suddenly with immediate intensity, severity, and uncertainty. Because men contract more serious and life-threatening chronic illnesses than women, experiencing illness causes men different identity dilemmas. This paper explores men's identity dilemmas by studying how men experience chronic illnesses and by looking at how assumptions about masculinity affected their identity. The paper explores four major processes: (1) awakening to death after a lifethreatening crisis, (2) accommodating to uncertainty as men realize that the crisis has lasting consequences for their lives, (3) defining illness and disability and (4) preserving self to maintain a sense of coherence while experiencing loss and change. The data are derived from forty in-depth formal interviews of twenty men, informal interviews with these men, and an extensive collection of published and unpublished personal accounts. The data were analyzed through the strategies of grounded theory.

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