Volume 2022 Number 3
  • EISSN: 2223-506X


This presentation is a comparative study between two works of autobiographic fiction: Lauren Slater’s (2000), which is about the author's epilepsy diagnosis, and Kuwaiti author Dr. Shahd Alshammari’s (2017), about her diagnosis of, and how she lives with, multiple sclerosis. The two memoirs are studies of identity formation through disability and through the language surrounding disability: the languages both encompass disease as too medicalized and removed from personal experience to be able to describe disease. Both female authors choose to metaphorize their diagnoses in order to best understand (and explain) the pain they live in, the shock of receiving their diagnosis, and the confusion of living in a not-obviously disabled body. Their use of metaphor refers to hidden diseases: the title of Slater’s memoir is a reference to how her disease is hidden, unclear, and has made her feel like her diagnosis is false. Alshammari’s text is a reference to how the disease is written into the body, but not always outwardly shown on it. The authors use postmodern writing, weaving between ‘truth’ and, as Slater’s title blatantly puts it, ‘lying’, and what it means to vacillate between the two when talking about something as abstract as pain. Slater’s epilepsy makes her think that she is lying and that affects how she thinks of her disease. Slater invents a fictional medical procedure, relaying it in her memoir, which for a very long time, she believes happened. Alshammari writes about how her disease is etched onto, or right under, her flesh, and describes her medical procedures using similes and otherworldly language. Both authors show that even the language we use to describe medical procedures affect how we think of the medical practice. Using theorists who study memoir like Thomas Couser, I show that critics who place too much stock and importance in absolute truth in a disability memoir are limiting the disabled community’s chosen method of self-representation.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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