Susan Sontag once described illness as “the night-side of life.” When we or our loved ones fall ill, our world is thrown into darkness and disarray, our routines are interrupted, our deepest beliefs shaken. The modern regime of hyper-logical biomedicine offers little solace when it comes to the effects of ill health on our inner lives. By exploring the role of desire in illness, Eros and Illness offers an alternative: an unconventional, deeply human exploration of what it means to live with, and live through, disease.
When we face down illness, something beyond biomedicine’s extremely valuable advances in treatment and prevention is sorely needed. Desire in its many guises plays a crucial part in illness, David Morris shows. Emotions, dreams, and stories—even romance and eroticism—shape our experiences as patients and as caregivers. Our perception of the world we enter through illness—including too often a world of pain—is shaped by desire.
Writing from his own heartbreaking experience as a caretaker for his wife, Morris relates how desire can worsen or, with care, mitigate the heavy weight of disease. He looks to myths, memoirs, paintings, performances, and narratives to understand how illness is intertwined with the things we value most dearly. Drawing on cultural resources from many centuries and media, Eros and Illness reaches out a hand to guide us through the long night of illness, showing us how to find productive desire where we expected only despair and defeat.