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Netflix Is Televising Prejudice Against The Chronically Ill

Friday 12 October 2018


From the Los Angeles Times:


Two women overcome with emotion
Two women are overcome with emotion as they
discuss how they got sick living in a
mold-infested apartment in Irvine in 2001.
(Photo: Los Angeles Times)

Netflix is televising prejudice against the chronically ill

By Julie Rehmeyer
September 18, 2018
Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times

Ableism kills.

I’ve watched my fellow patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, suffer and even die from the ignominy of a suspect disease. Patients often can’t get effective medical care, their disability insurance applications are rejected, their marriages are torn apart, they’re abandoned by their families, they end up in poverty and food insecurity, and sometimes they die, occasionally from the disease itself, more often from suicide.

As terrible as this litany is, nothing has brought home to me the dangers of prejudice against those who are chronically ill like the new Netflix documentary series “Afflicted.”

The television show follows the lives of seven people with “bizarre” health problems, including ME/CFS and mold illness, diagnoses I share. As the series unfolds, the agenda becomes increasingly clear: to show that the primary cause of these diseases is psychological. In Episode 6, each participant is shown while their parents and partners speak: “I wonder, is he imagining this to the point that it becomes real?” “Is this in her head? Is it psychosomatic?” “Some of it’s in her mind, I guess.”

The patients are depicted as bleeding their loved ones dry of money and goodwill, as abandoning reputable doctors in favor of greedy quacks, and as being freaks utterly unlike normal healthy people.

When I finished watching the series, I feared for my fellow patients.


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