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Department of Psychotherapy and Spirituality (St. Stephen's College)

Through My Looking Glass: A Woman's Experience of Living Long-Term with Invisible Undiagnosed Chronic Physical Illness and Pain and its Impact Upon Her Sense of Self Open Access


Other title
tacit knowledge
self advocacy
heuristic research
transformation, spirituality
Long term chronic pain
Type of item
Degree grantor
St. Stephen's College
Author or creator
Janis Louise Stewart
Supervisor and department
Dr. Jean Waters
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Nancy Viva Davis Halifax
Dr. Margaret Clark
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts in Pastoral Psychology and Counselling
Degree level
This heuristic thesis explores the experience of a woman living for decades with invisible, undiagnosed, chronic physical illness and pain. With ethical care and respect for confidentiality, the researcher recalls incidents of trauma in her early life that informed the development of her self. The paper describes the complex effects of living with symptoms of undiagnosed illness for many years. Complicating factors include the lack of a support network, and revisions of services in the local health care system. The author discusses her experience of the prevailing attitudes that disempower women who advocate on their own behalf in the legal system. Concurrent disenfranchised losses, including intimate relationships and role identity, are also described. Circumstances that contribute to marginalization include unemployment, divorce, and poverty. The thesis explores insights that emerged from the period of intense heuristic inquiry. It provides ideas for potential future research as well as possible personal, community and political activism. The thesis work is complemented by a set of five piano compositions.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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