might become difficult for them to maintain or manage a sense of self and they might
even have to accept a new identity.
What comes to a person with an illness is not only the illness itself but also the
understanding that they have to learn how to be ill in a recognizable way.
'Recognizable way' in that regard means the way by which one can be recognized as
being ill and affected by it, and therefore, be able to either receive help or help oneself.
According to Talcott Parsons (1951), an American sociologist, this is called 'taking on
the sick role', in which 'the sick role' becomes the part of an individual's identity. A
way for someone to discover how a person deals with their condition and identity of
someone with a condition is to listen to them talk about it. Greenhalgh and Hurwitz
(1999) note that one might touch upon such things as the effect of the illness on their
life, what they have had to face when fighting it, how other people have reacted to the
illness, and how it continues to impact them. Some practitioners suppose that hearing
a patient telling their story may provide an opportunity to develop an understanding
that cannot be achieved in any other way.
In general, when a person shares aspects of their identity with others, it can make
them feel accepted and appreciated. People with identities that can be called
problematic happen to often seek to join in groups that provide information and
support. In health and social care, group membership can serve as a source of support
for an ill person that no other source can match. There are numerous reasons why one
might want to be a part of a social or support group. For instance, it can be one's
desire to get help in managing or overcoming an addiction, receive encouragement
while losing weight, or share experiences between people with a particular health
condition. However, joining a group is not always an easy process, and sometimes
attitudes towards the group or within it change as time passes. Moreover, mutual
support is not a one-box solution, and some support groups might be established for
commercial or ideological purposes. It is important for a social and health worker to
realize that and be yet be advised that when care is put into selecting the right group,
they can be an extremely beneficial source of support.