A landmark exploration of one of the most consequential and mysterious issues of our time: the rise of chronic illness and autoimmune diseases
 


A silent epidemic of chronic illnesses afflicts tens of millions of Americans: these are diseases that are poorly understood, frequently marginalized, and can go undiagnosed and unrecognized altogether. Renowned writer Meghan O’Rourke delivers a revelatory investigation into this elusive category of “invisible” illness that encompasses autoimmune diseases, post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, and now long COVIDynthesizing the personal and the universal to help all of us through this new frontier.
 
Drawing on her own medical experiences as well as a decade of interviews with doctors, patients, researchers, and public health experts, O’Rourke traces the history of Western definitions of illness, and reveals how inherited ideas of cause, diagnosis, and treatment have led us to ignore a host of hard-to-understand medical conditions, ones that resist easy description or simple cures. And as America faces this health crisis of extraordinary proportions, the populations most likely to be neglected by our institutions include women, the working class, and people of color.
 
Blending lyricism and erudition, candor and empathy, O’Rourke brings together her deep and disparate talents and roles as critic, journalist, poet, teacher, and patient, synthesizing the personal and universal into one monumental project arguing for a seismic shift in our approach to disease. The Invisible Kingdom offers hope for the sick, solace and insight for their loved ones, and a radical new understanding of our bodies and our health.
Praise for The Invisible Kingdom:

The Invisible Kingdom is a vivid account of the lived experience of chronic illness. Meghan O’Rourke exposes a system of thought in which people with poorly understood illnesses are dismissed and disbelieved, blamed for their own suffering, and left to take desperate risks in pursuit of treatment. Crucially, her perspective offers insight into how we can do better.” –Eula Biss, author of Having and Being Had

“O’Rourke’s honest and insightful account of chronic pain is at once a page-turner and an education in cutting-edge science and the history of ideas. I couldn’t put it down.” – Gretchen Rubin, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project

“In this urgent and beautifully written book, Meghan O'Rourke lays siege to one of the last taboos in medicine: the chronic illnesses that govern the daily lives of millions of people, but are rarely acknowledged. As we confront the long-term impacts of COVID-19, O’Rourke’s lyrical analysis couldn't come at a better time.” – Michael Specter, New Yorker staff writer and author of Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Harms the Planet and Threatens Our Lives

“With impressive clarity and depth, O’Rourke explores the failure of current biological science to identify the causes of numerous maladies or offer effective treatment, leaving a sufferer adrift. Bracing in its intelligence and remarkable in its sweep of both literary and medical scope, this book is essential reading for patients and medical professionals alike.” —Jerome Groopman MD, author of How Doctors Think

Emotionally compelling and intellectually rich."  —Kirkus