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Health Care Women Int. 2019 Sep 12:1-12. doi: 10.1080/07399332.2019.1663195. [Epub ahead of print]

Recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome as an intra-active process.

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Faculty of Health, Institute of Physiotherapy, Oslo Metropolitan University , Oslo , Norway.


In this article, we draw on the narrative of a woman who has recovered from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) to explore the process of recovering from a debilitating illness. Inspired by Julia Kristeva's notion of the body as a complex biocultural fact and by Karen Barad's posthuman theory (also termed agential realism), we adopt an intra-active approach to the woman's recovery process, revealing the role played by human as well as nonhuman entities. In so doing, we move beyond "dualistic," often polarized debates in the medical literature (and mainstream media) regarding the causes of CFS: debates in which "biological/physiological" factors tend to be set against "mental/cognitive/psychological" ones. We argue for a medical perspective in which the intra-action of human and nonhuman agents is recognized as contributing to an individual's recovery process.

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