“Out Patients” by Elise Wu

When reading the first couple of paragraphs of Elise Wu’s “Out Patients” I had no idea what to expect. Wu introduced the topic of having a factitious disorder pretty brilliantly. Using her own experience as the introduction really helped the reader understand her perspective. When talking about the disorder Wu uses personal details as well as other people perspectives on it as she discovers the online communities sharing their stories.

In fact, there are a few. Wu goes into to two online platforms both representing different needs surrounding the factitious disorder throughout the essay. In the end she compares and contrasts both experiences and both audiences.

Wu goes into very specific details as she describes the verbal portrait of this community on the page. While entering the site she says that her screen is a “sea-green background” that Dr. Feldman’s had a “expert’s smile” at the top of the page. Which gave her the chills and made her lose trust in the site. She also goes on to realize that it is not a place for the patients with FD but in fact it’s a place for the people who have interacted with it and who were hurt by it to come and ask questions and seek support. It was a one-way street, not a community.

Initially going onto the first website, Wu became discouraged after doing some scrolling. She noted that the doctor who created the platform wasn’t very helpful at all and seemed to have his own agenda by answering questions vaguely and plugging his books to gain further information, which created a false sense of community in the eyes of Wu. After she finds the site that actually is a site for FDers by FDers, cravin4care, she realizes the dynamics are different. Wu uses personal stories on the site to help the audience understand more of the meaning and purpose of the new site. There is more direct interaction, you “are” somebody meaning, you have to create a persona and personally subscribe to be a part of the website instead of just aimlessly scroll. What was different about this site was that you were able to make connections people returned to the site, people created friendships. She compares the two sites. Wu

even comes across stories of people “coming out” and trusts their stories. Wu relies on this source which influences her to seek help.

After finishing reading this essay, I’m glad it had a happy ending, I for sure thought this was going to be a story about how someone finds an online platform that fits them perfectly but I’m glad it wasn’t. On another note the human body never ceases to amaze me.

Comments ( 2 )

  1. Marieme Jiddou
    I'm also glad Wu did not fit into the community perfectly. She noted how some people were there for years without much progress and I was afraid she might take the same route. But I think her outsider perspective made her see the full picture more than those who've been in the group for years.
  2. Yaya Camara
    You are very descriptive in your response which is very good. I also like how Wu was able to follow other people in the forums and started to disclose her illness to her therapist and hopefully loved ones.

Skip to toolbar