Congratulations to Dr. Lesley Jo Weaver on the publication (Epub ahead of print) of “Transactions in Suffering: Mothers, Daughters, and Chronic Disease Comorbidities in New Delhi, India.” This article in Medical Anthropology Quarterly focuses on intergenerational discussions about suffering and chronic diseases between mothers and their daughters in India.
Weaver, L. J. (2016), Transactions in Suffering: Mothers, Daughters, and Chronic Disease Comorbidities in New Delhi, India. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/maq.12283
The biomedical definition of comorbidity belies the complexity of its lived experience. This article draws on case studies of women with diabetes and various comorbidities in New Delhi, India, to explore intergenerational transactions surrounding suffering in contexts of comorbidity. The analysis synthesizes sociological theories of chronic disease work (Corbin and Strauss 1985), psychological theories of caregiver burnout (Figley 1995), and anthropological approaches to suffering and legitimacy (Das 1997) to explore how, when, and by whom women’s comorbid sources of suffering become routinized, or normalized, in everyday life. The analysis demonstrates, first, that comorbid suffering is not simply a matter of the addition of a second source of suffering to an existing one; rather, it comprises complex interactions between suffering, disability, family dynamics, and quality of life. Second, it illustrates several social routes through which comorbid suffering can fade into the background of everyday life, even when it is severe. Close attention to how suffering works in cases of comorbidity will be important as comorbid conditions become increasingly commonplace around the world.