Jan 25th Discussion


Confessions of An English Opium Eater: “Pleasures of Opium”

Confessions of An English Opium Eater: “Pains of Option:

On Being Ill

Illness as a metaphore



Confessions of An English Opium Eater: “Pleasures of Opium”

  1. By the way the writer described how he got addicted to opium, what can we say about how it was viewed at the time?
  2. Why is the “Pleasures of Opium” section before the “Pains of Opium” section? And why does he put his introduction to Opium in there?


Confessions of An English Opium Eater: “Pains of Opium”

  1. According to the writer, does the addiction of opium interfere more with his mental state, physical state or equal amounts of both? And how?
  2. The author seems to concentrate the most part on the dreams he is having due to the opium. Why is that? Given that they are fantastical, why does he choose to include them in this chapter?


“On Being Ill”

  1. “Sympathy we cannot have” as it would lead to “sorrow and despair” (pg. 12). Woolf claims that sympathy among humans is a wasted pursuit, but rather it is better to find solace in nature. What is the significance of her assertion?
  2. Woolf argues that something so ubiquitous as illness is underrepresented in literature because of shortcomings of the English language, and she mentioned that we cannot simply quote Shakespeare to describe a headache. How has this narrative fared over time?

Illness as a Metaphor

  1. Sontag pointed out that the rise of faith-based thinking contributed to a belief that there is a psychological basis for disease, and hence the onus of the disease is on us. Her work paved the way for a separation between disease and “victim.” In regards to mental health, to what extent can we say disease causes the state of mind and not vice-versa?
  2. Sontag mentions that diseases such as TB and cancer can act as labels, causing others to shun the victim. Why is that? Compare and contrast this idea with the treatment of patients with HIV.