Spoon Theory

Spoon theory: it’s not actually an alternative to string theory. Nor is it a critical framework for the spoon dialectic. Rather, it’s a simple and creative way of explaining the way people with chronic illnesses have to manage their energy and activity levels.

It was written by Christine Miserandino, a ‘speaker, journalist, blogger, and patient advocate from NY,’ who ‘also happens to be someone who is living with Lupus.’ She came up with the analogy during lunch with a friend, trying to make her understand the daily struggle of coping with her illness. The spoon theory is basically as follows:

“I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.”

The whole article is extremely enlightening, and I recommend it highly for everyone, especially those who are friends or family of people with chronic illnesses (and I suspect that is most of us). And for those of us who have chronic illnesses ourselves and already know what that is like, it might be helpful to read this to find what could be good technique to explain these things to other people.

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