Wednesday, October 21 // 2:00PM ET
Moderated by Whitney Erin Boesel
This episode puts medical and non-medical ways of knowing in conversation with each other to discuss two different somatic phenomena: endometriosis and ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response). Endometriosis is a medical diagnosis, but it is also understudied and poorly understood as a condition. In “‘Hysterics’ on the Web,” Eileen Mary Holowka examines how people living with endometriosis use social media to navigate and manage their experience of living with gendered chronic pain. Conversely, current medical research can neither diagnose nor explain the experience of ASMR. In “ASMR in the Clinic,” Nitin K. Ahuja considers whether placebo studies can explain the therapeutic impact of clinically themed ASMR videos — and what clinicians can learn from such videos about delivering effective telemedicine during a pandemic.
Hysterics’ on the Web: Posting about Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a devestating and painful condition that is overwhelmingly mistreated, underrepresented, and misdiagnosed, despite affeccting 1 in 10 women and non-binary/trans individuals worldwide. ” ‘Hysterics’ on the Web” gives a brief window into my in-progress dissertation on the online lives of people living with endometriosis and how they use Facebook and Instagram to navigate, manage, and live with their illness(es). Using a mix of methodologies (including small data analysis, digital auto/ethnographic analysis, and qualitative thematic analysis) this presentation aims to open up a way of better understanding the present (and future) of gendered chronic pain and its mediations.
ASMR in the Clinic: Practice Analogs for Analog Practice
Nitin K. Ahuja
In the decade since autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) was communally defined, its associated media has become familiar audiovisual shorthand. While clinical research has yielded little insight thus far into the phenomenon’s underlying mechanisms, the emergent field of Placebo Studies suggests an underexplored analogy between clinically themed ASMR videos and sugar pills — medicinal in appearance, inert in composition. As a clinician, I argue that ASMR videos can serve as primers for optimizing real-world therapeutic practice, especially during the current pandemic, in light of a suddenly widespread telehealth paradigm that demands the performance of caregiving at a distance, on screens.
Eileen Holowka (@derangedpoetess)
Eileen Mary Holowka is a writer, game dev, and PhD student, currently studying feminist social media practices around chronic pain and ‘invisible’ illnesses. In 2018, she created a digital narrative circuits about the difficult act of narrating sexual trauma within institutional spaces, which can be played for free online.
Nitin K. Ahuja (@nitinkahuja)
Nitin K. Ahuja is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Pennsylvania. His primary clinical interest is in motility and functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. His secondary research interests are in the history, literature, and culture of medicine.
Whitney Erin Boesel (@weboesel)
Whitney Erin Boesel is an independent researcher and freelance editor whose work focuses primarily on the sociology of health, medicine, and technology. Her writing has appeared in TIME, The New Inquiry, Cyborgology, and Huffington Post; she is also the Production Manager for Theorizing the Web Presents.