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Scholars Day 2008, Wednesday, April 9

Between Medical and Self-Diagnosis- Internet Labs and the Emergence of "Scientific Self-Diagnosis" of Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease triggered by gluten in the diet. When persons with celiac disease consume wheat, barley, or rye, or other products containing gluten, the immune response damages the villi in the small intestine resulting in malabsorption of nutrients, minerals, and calories. Though celiac disease is common, gastroenterologists and other physicians frequently misdiagnose it as irritable bowel syndrome or psychosomatic illness. This paper examines the social experience of celiac disease from a point of view of persons diagnosed with it. Specifically, it explores the social process of diagnosis through an examination of one popular celiac disease internet discussion board. This paper documents the lengthy struggles persons face as they attempt to validate their varied symptoms through self-diagnosis and physician diagnosis, and compares these struggles with those common to persons with medically unexplained symptoms (MUPS) such as fibromyalgia, Gulf War syndrome, and chronic fatigue.

Presenters: Denise Copelton (Faculty)
Giuseppina Valle (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: Sociology
Location: 214 Hartwell
Time: 9:15 am (Session I)