This essay examines Susan Sontag's _Illness as Metaphor_ alongside Daniel Harris's studies of those admitted for tuberculosis care at the Saranac Lake Sanitarium. While both Sontag’s perceptions and Patient 296’s tubercular reality may not be 100% aligned with one another (i.e., lived experience of someone with tuberculosis versus historical perceptions of the disease itself), by combining both aspects we are able to develop a fairly crystalline image of what it was like to actually have tuberculosis at this point in time. In doing so, it becomes clear that while some perceptions of tuberculosis may have been fairly misguided, it was nonetheless a disease marked by certain particulars. In analyzing Patient 296’s profile, it becomes abundantly clear that the perception of tuberculosis/tuberculosis patients versus their reality are not one in the same. Furthermore, in comparing these aspects it becomes clear what it was like to not only be diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, but being hospitalized in general, in that it is more likely to experience feelings of isolation/alienation, fear (in regards to not only the disease and treatment generally speaking, but ultimately to the prospect of life post-cure), and general discontent - a far cry from the somewhat idealized perceptions displayed in the work of Sontag.
Stehura, Margaret; Shell, Cristopher; and Piette, Zachary
"Tuberculosis Patient Number 296 In the Daniel Harris Papers,"
Student Projects from the Archives: Vol. 2
, Article 6.
Available at: https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/spa/vol2/iss1/6