UNDERSTANDING LUPUS by Henrietta Aladjem


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A dense, difficult guide to a poorly understood disease. Aladjem (The Sun Is My Enemy; Lupus: Hope Through Understanding) is knowledgeable and has first-person experience battling systemtic lupus erythmatosus. She includes here contributions from medical experts on the disease. But this is slow, arduous going that may further impair readers' understanding. Aladjem begins with what Lupus is, and is hard put to find a clear definition for this disease (basically, it is an autoimmune, inflammatory disorder in which a hyperactive immune system reacts against the body's own elements; the resulting symptoms affect every body system). Discussion of possible causes and new research is particularly dense ("". . .B cells in two strains of mice, BXSB and NZB/NZW, overreacted. . .In contrast, B cells from MRL-1 mice showed no such hyperactivity; instead, their T cells seemed to overproduce. . .""), and the implications are not sufficiently translated or related to everyday concerns. Aladjem discusses treatment (mainly symptomatic at this point), with physician, psychotherapist, nurse and dentist each contributing a point of view. Finally, she discusses ""Living With Lupus,"" giving some first-person accounts. But again there's too much testimony on common daily problems that those with lupus may face (the stress of a chronic disease--especially one about which so little is known; lack of understanding from family and friends). Readers would have benefitted more by hearing directly from Aladjem about daily concerns and coping methods from a practical point of view. Instead, this remains primarily a professional's view which does little to enhance understanding of a difficult condition.

Pub Date: June 17th, 1985
Publisher: Scribner's