Spoons on Fire

The Visualization and Communication of Pain by the Community of the Persistently Fatigued


  • Andrea Neelissen Third year Arts, media and society student


spoonies, persistent fatigue, disability studies, metaphor, Disability, subcultures, pain communication, Tumblr


How can I ever convey how I suffer? It is a question that has plagued many. The 'inexpressibility' of pain is particularly pertinent to those suffering from chronic conditions. Those who call themselves “spoonies” suffer from persistent fatigue and have gathered an online community based on a metaphor developed by Christine Miserandino. This essay will explore how this metaphor serves as a layered communicative tool to spoonies and how this group could be considered a subculture. I will link the linguistic expression to visual products by referring to images that have been posted to the online platform Tumblr. By discussing spoonies, I aim to provide a glimpse into the many methods people have employed to show the complex experience of pain. Concluding that the metaphor that was initially meant to communicate suffering to ‘outsiders’ of the experience of persistent fatigue, eventually morphed into an expression that primarily serves those suffering from persistent fatigue.