"In dissecting the illnesses of these famous people, Dr. Lerner brilliantly separates
science from the mythologized, bravely battling celebrity. Riveting reading."
Lynn Redgrave and Annabel Clark, authors of Journal: A Mother and Daughter's Recovery from Breast Cancer
odd: When a celebrity falls ill, the illness becomes a celebrity, and public life
democratized is made generally useful.Barron Lerner has created a fascinating book of this
CONTACT: For further
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Greenberg Public Relations, (212)
Producer, Editor, Reviewer
When Illness Goes Public:
Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine
CONTACT: For further information, or to schedule an
interview, contact Susannah Greenberg Public Relations,(212) 208-4629, firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrities/ Health & Medicine/ Book News
INTERVIEW: Barron H. Lerner is the author of the forthcoming book, When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at
Medicine (Johns Hopkins University Press, October 2006). Lerner is a physician
and the Angelica Berrie-Gold Foundation Associate Professor of Medicine and Public Health
at Columbia University. His other books include Contagion and Confinement, also
published by Johns Hopkins, and The Breast Cancer Wars, winner of the 2006 William
H. Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine and a notable book
of the American Library Association.
"The information gleaned from the anecdotal case of a celebrity illness can be as
influential as expert medical advice in a personal health crisis for the average
American," says Columbia University physician and historian Barron Lerner, author of When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at
Medicine (Johns Hopkins University Press, October 2006), an insightful look at
both the culture of celebrity and the history of Medicine since 1935, from Lou Gehrig to
The cases discussed in the book include:
Gehrig: Did the Yankee slugger know he was dying? What did his doctors actually
Bourke-White: Why did the famous photographer with Parkinson's disease volunteer
to be a guinea pig for experimental brain surgery?
- Brian Piccolo:
What facts about his illness and death were left out of the well-known movie,
- Steve McQueen:
Did the actor's clandestine unorthodox treatment in Mexico almost cure his cancer?
- Rita Hayworth:
How did her doctors and friends completely miss the fact the actress had Alzheimer's
- Libby Zion: Why did her father believe that his only daughter had been
"murdered" by overtired and unsupervised doctors-in-training?
- Arthur Ashe:
Did the media have the right to "out" the AIDS diagnosis of a retired athlete?
- Lorenzo Odone: Did Lorenzo's Oil
really save the lives of boys with a crippling neurological disease, and who got to decide
if it worked, doctors or parents?
Why do stories of celebrity illness have such a powerful influence on patient
decision-making? Why do patients and their families often put more faith in the case of an
individual famous patient than in randomized controlled trials? How does the media both
report--and distort -- the facts of famous medical cases? Dr. Lerner answers these
questions and more in When Illness Goes Public.
The book tells the story of thirteen famous
patients diagnosed and treated over the past seventy-five years. Some were already famous
when they became sick, and then found themselves uncomfortably in the media's glare.
Others became famous because their treatments were unique, often last-ditch efforts to
save their lives from rare, usually fatal diseases.
While celebrity illnesses have informed patients
about treatment options, ethical controversies, and scientific proof, they have also
assumed mythical characteristics that may mislead the sick and their families. Marrying
great storytelling with an exploration of the intersection of science, journalism, fame,
and legend, Dr. Lerner's book, When Illness Goes Public, is a groundbreaking
contribution to our understanding of health and illness.
information is available at: www.press.jhu.edu
CONTACT: For further
information, or to schedule an interview, contact Susannah Greenberg Public Relations,
(212) 208-4629, email@example.com