A study by Susan Sontag on how diseases become symbols of the stresses on a culture at a given time.

She used tuberculosis (also known as "consumption") to discuss 19th century culture, and cancer to discuss 20th century culture. A follow up work on AIDS as a metaphor examined the social significance of the latter disease.

A cancer survivor herself, Sontag does not dismiss the very real physical and emotional suffering that can accompany illness, but she makes some interesting points about how illness operates on a cultural and symbolic level.

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