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Three Ways Netflix's "Afflicted" Hurts People With Chronic Illness

Wednesday 29 August 2018


From Without A Crystal Ball:



3 Ways Netflix’s “Afflicted” Hurts People with Chronic Illness

By Katie Paulson
August 26, 2018
Copyright 2008-2018, Patheos. All rights reserved.

As I drew up the syringes for my son’s morning medications, I thought about the new Netflix docu-series Afflicted. The show follows the stories of patients with chronic illness. I finished the series last night. This morning I felt sick to my stomach thinking about the damage the show does to the chronic illness community. My son and I are entrenched in a world similar to what the cast of Afflicted faces. We live a secluded life out of necessity and spend a lot of time at the hospital. Today I am reminded how much people distrust individuals like my son because of his illness. Producers painted the cast as liars, hypochondriacs, and quacks for trying experimental treatments. Afflicted harms all chronically ill people in three critical ways.

Controversial Disorders create Hypochondriac Narrative

The cast all have disorders that are mysterious. An unknown disease is not uncommon in the rare disease world. Medicine is continually learning about the disease. Scientists discover new conditions all the time. The producers picked illnesses that are not currently recognized by the medical community to paint the cast as hypochondriacs with severe mental health issues.

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity is not recognized as a disease or disorder. The World Health Organization acknowledges that the disorder may be real but scientific data hasn’t proven it yet.

All diseases start in this exact place. Until you have supporting scientific data, there is no way to classify disease. That doesn’t mean it’s not real.

Lyme disease is hard to diagnose due to false negatives. Lyme disease is the result of a deer tick bite and bacterium Borrelia entering the body. Patients take antibiotics to kill the bacteria.

Even with antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease, 20-30% of patients develop neurological issues, fatigue, and chronic pain.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is formerly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. ME is a debilitating disorder that is still being researched and understood in the medical community.

However, the National Organization for Rare Disorders maintains that ME is most likely a result of the body's abnormal response to a virus or infection. ME can infect the nervous system causing encephalitis or brain inflammation. Individuals with severe ME can be bedridden and significantly disabled for long periods of time.


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