Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Claudio E. Benzecry; Kathryn S. Ratcliff

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Campus Access


While in recent years the embodiment of a chronically ill body has arisen as a growing area of study, the deeply stigmatizing nature of, to borrow Weinberg and Williams’ (2005) term, “fecal matters” and its intersection with this process has been little explored. Comprised of a year of attending three Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) support groups and semi-structured interviews with twelve support group members, this study sits at this intersection. The article first succinctly uncovers the contemporary boundaries of Cahill’s (2006) notion of the private body. The discussion then focuses on the influence of the stigma of fecal matters on IBD support group dynamics. I explore the disparate ways in which the members of each group collectively harness language, and its absence, to protect their embodied selves from symbolic fecal contamination. The paper concludes with an examination of the role of support groups in shaping self perception and the influence of the private body on this process.

Major Advisor

Clinton R. Sanders