Serious illness and mortality, those most universal, unavoidable, and frightening of human experiences, are the focus of this pioneering study which has been hailed as a telling and provocative commentary on our times. As modern medicine has become more scientific and dispassionate, a new literary genre has emerged: pathography, the personal narrative concerning illness, treatment, and sometimes death. Hawkins's sensitive reading of numerous pathographies highlights the assumptions, attitudes, and myths that people bring to the medical encounter. One factor emerges again and again in these case studies: the tendency in contemporary medical practice to focus primarily not on the needs of the individual who is sick but on the condition that we call disease. Pathography allows the individual person a voice - one that asserts the importance of the experiential side of illness, and thus restores the feeling, thinking, experiencing human being to the center of the medical enterprise. Recommended for medical practitioners, the clergy, caregivers, students of popular culture, and the general reader, Reconstructing Illness demonstrates that only when we hear both the doctor's and the patient's voice will we have a medicine that is truly human.