Some people might think Larry Smarr is crazy. After collecting enormous amounts of data, Larry arrived at his physician’s office with graphs and tables. Larry Smarr is not crazy. In fact, astrophysicist Larry Smarr had discovered his Crohn’s disease before medical science did and before he had noticeable symptoms. He contends that individuals can take responsibility for and manage their own health and that modern computing technology can help. In an article in The Atlantic, Mark Bowden recounts this tale of a man who realized that an individual is an expert about his/her own body. Smarr’s story illustrates that with data from monitoring one’s health, a person can be warned, and therefore, armed against serious health threats.
In my ARJ article on migraine management as action research, I give implicit assent to Smarr’s primary assertion and to an ancient Greek directive to know oneself. In the first-person, managing a chronic health condition is action research. The person who suffers is an expert about the health condition and the suffering that goes along with it. This person may choose to welcome second-person collaborations with family, friends, and healthcare professionals. Beyond the realm of one’s social interactions, third-person resources can also be helpful. Ultimately, managing one’s life can be perceived as ongoing cycles of Participatory Action Research, whereby a person engages others in order to stay well and be his or her optimal self.
In Participatory Action Research, it is vital to engage in analyses that expose one’s action logics to scrutiny. It can lead a person to eschew inauthentic acts and thoughts in favor of authentic ones.
As a psychologist, researcher, and a person with a disability from a chronic health condition, I’m interested in others’ views on this topic. Are the types of self-scrutiny that I describe and that Smarr evidences indicative of well-being? Or, is it plain old narcissism?
I look forward to your thoughts and comments.
Lauren S. Seifert
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