Livet, identiteten och kronisk sjukdom. En socialpsykologisk studie av unga vuxna diabetiker : Life, identity and chronic illness - A socio-psychological study of young adult diabetics

Sammanfattning: This thesis is intended to give an insight into what it entails to contract and live with a chronic illness in today's society. How is being taken il! experienced and perceived as a life event, and how does the individual's attitude develop over time? The study is prospective and is planned on the basis of a trajectory perspective. The theoretical starting point is socio-psychologically interactive. Thirty-one young adult, insulin-dependent diabetics, aged between 16-35 years, narrated their experiences of falling iII and living with the illness, two months, l Y2years and 4 years after their diagnosis. The iIlness is perceived as an interruption in the trajectory of their lives, a threat to and an encroachment on these young people's life project and everyday existence, which is handled by practically routinising the lifestyle demanded by the illness and by trying to safeguard their identity as belonging to the healthy population. When it comes to routinising, it is the lack of freedom entailed by the regulated way of life which feels restrictive and oppressive. The informants try to retain freedom and contral over their lives, which also demands controi over the illness. If the illness can be routinised and incorporated into their day-to-day existence, this means that freedom over their lives is retained; otherwise there is a risk ofbeing held hostage by the care the illness demands. In their efforts to retain balance and contral over their lives and the illness, the informants display considerable ambivalence. This ambivalence is an expression of the search for and assessment ofvarious aspects of the problem, in this case actually falling iII, and can have a more or less relational or reflexive emphasis from time to time. Three primary strategies can be discemed: l. To live your life - "like brushing your teeth": A metaphor which describes that this is something you have leamt in order to avoid problems, and once it has been leamt, it is a routine you carryout withoutactuallythinkingaboutil. 2. To liveyourillness- "whydid I get it": The illness becomes a stigma, and usually a present and oppressive threat, which takes a great deal of your strength and energy. There are often other life events which contribute to this emotion and situation. 3. Consolidation - "it could have been worse": The individual is striving to live his life, not the iIlness, and is more or less successful in this undertaking; a middle-of-the-road strategy which is also the most common approach. These three strategies are not mutually exclusive- it is possibleto changestrategyfromtimeto time.Today'sself-administrationpolicy is problematical for those who do not have the preconditions for being well-informed or who are not capable of prioritising their iIlness.

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