Sick and Tired: Healing the Diseases that Doctors Cannot Cure

What is the book about?

It is a strange and alarming fact that at a time when people are living longer and rates of identifiable disease are lower than they have been since records began, millions of people throughout the developed world are suffering from illnesses, for which modern scientific medicine cannot find a cause or an effective treatment. Over half the visit to doctors in the UK are for medically unexplained illnesses, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Functional Dyspepsia and Fibromyalgia Syndrome and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, creating the most pervasive public health issue of our time.

Sick and Tired investigates the origin and meaning of the modern epidemic of unexplained illness. Drawing from a broad philosophical perspective, it argues that unexplained illnesses are not different diseases awaiting the discovery of a definite cause but more a single illness phenomenon that can be expressed in variety of ways according to a person’s life experience. As such, Sick and Tired proposes that most unexplained bodily illnesses are instigated by life situations that cannot be dealt with through the creation and resolution of emotion, and are more likely to occur in those whose childhood did not, for whatever reason, equip them to cope with separation and change.

Sick and Tired further asserts that an unprecedented rate of cultural change, coupled with social isolation and the all pervasive influence of the mass media, is largely responsible for creating the pressures that have led to new forms of sickness. The conversion of the isolation and instability of modern life into medical illness shifts the burden of society onto the individual while at the same time eroding his capacity to cope and creating dependence on medical services. But since the scientific culture of western medicine only tends to recognise diseases that have an obvious pathological basis and external cause, this can leave vast numbers of patients, sick, tired and disillusioned and turning to alternative health care systems that focus more on the patient than the disease. Such illness cannot be treated with diet or drugs but requires an understanding of the context and meaning of the illness and a therapeutic focus that instils faith and confidence.

My book challenges governments not to invest more resource in a health care system that is failing to cope with the broad perspective of social ailments, but to acknowledge the sickness that is in society and to collaborate with more holistic therapeutic systems to develop a more meaningful and coherent public health strategy for a rapidly changing world.


  1. Functional Illness: What is it?
  2. What Makes People Ill?
  3. Emotional Regulation and the Development of Illness
  4. Why Do Some People Get Ill And Others Don’t?
  5. Why Modern Life is Making Us Ill
  6. The Meaning of Illness and The Purpose
  7. Cultural Ailments
  8. The Medicalisation of Illness
  9. Breaking the Mould

Published in 2005 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
For further information please contact:
Emma Finnigan at Orion Books
Tel: +44 – (0)207 – 520 4460