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An Open Letter Accuses Netflix's 'Afflicted' Of Abandoning Ethics And Science

Friday 21 September 2018


From the Pacific Standard:


Bekah Fly
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity sufferer Bekah Fly in Afflicted


The new documentary series promised compassion for sufferers of poorly understood chronic illnesses. Instead, it peddled the tired narrative that their suffering is "all in their heads."

By Maya Dusenbery
September 20, 2018
© 2018 The Social Justice Foundation

Last month, Netflix released a new docuseries, Afflicted, which follows "seven people suffering with bizarre chronic illnesses."


The participants were told the series would explore their conditions—some of which are poorly understood conditions that are sometimes described as "contested illnesses"—through a "compassionate lens." And before its release, there was cautious optimism among patient communities that the series—released on a platform with 300 million viewers worldwide—would bring greater empathy and understanding for those suffering from these extremely marginalized conditions. But once released, those hopes were dashed.

On Tuesday, I joined a group of physicians, scientists, filmmakers, and writers—including Lena Dunham, Monica Lewinsky, and Mario Capecchi, a Nobel Laureate in genetics—in signing an open letter to Netflix detailing many ethical missteps, scientific errors, and omissions evident in the series. Allowing Afflicted to remain on the widely watched platform, the letter states, "will reinforce barriers to appropriate medical care or disability benefits, dampen the support of vital research, and add to the stigma and social isolation of an already profoundly marginalized group of people." Multiple petitions have been launched calling on Netflix to remove the series.


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