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September Narrative Medicine Rounds with Meghan O'Rourke

Headshot of O"Rourke next to book cover.

For our first Rounds of the 22-23 school year, we are excited to welcome Meghan O'Rourke, poet and best-selling author of THE INVISIBLE KINGDOM: Reimagining  Chronic Illness. A silent epidemic of chronic illnesses afflicts tens of millions of Americans: these are diseases that are poorly understood, frequently marginalized, and can go undiagnosed and unrecognized altogether.  O'Rourke delivers a revelatory investigation into this elusive category of "invisible" illness that encompasses autoimmune diseases, post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, and long COVID, synthesizing the personal and the universal to help us through this new frontier.  Drawing on her own medical experiences and a decade of interviews with doctors, patients, researcher, and public health experts, O'Rourke traces the history of Western definitions of illness, and reveals how inherited ideas of cause, diagnosis, and treatment have led us to ignore a host of hard-to-understand medical conditions, ones that resist easy description or simple cures.  And as America faces this health crisis of extraordinary proportions, the populations most likely to be neglected by our institutions include women, the working class, and people of color. 

Narrative Medicine Rounds are monthly rounds on the first Wednesday of the month during the academic year hosted by the Division of Narrative Medicine in the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. A recording of our Virtual Narrative Medicine rounds will be made available following the live session on the Narrative Medicine YouTube channel, and you can watch other recent Rounds events there. You can also listen to a podcast of past Rounds on iTunes.