BY: Noha Fouad

Embodiment of Empathy: Experiencing Disease Through Design

Abstract

Abstract

Today, more than 400 million individuals around the world have diabetes. This number is expected to grow to more than 600 million by 2023. However, diabetes is more than just a statistic. It is an incurable, psychologically nuanced disease, with daily battles and far-reaching complications. The lives of those afflicted undergo permanent physical and psychological changes.

Reading the stories of diabetics, or hearing them share their experience may elicit an immediate yet often fleeting sense of realization. How, then, can this brief moment of awareness be prolonged? How can a non-diabetic feel diabetes? More importantly, why should they? This research explores empathy as a tool to achieve that level of understanding. Elements found on the dining table, a place most diabetics are acutely aware of, were redesigned in an attempt to recreate certain aspects of the diabetic experience. These items no longer function in the way they were intended to, but have been transformed into tools that evoke empathy. A non-diabetic will get to experience the struggles associated with four main areas: control, or lack thereof; unpredictable dysfunctionality; a constant state of alertness; and finally, the burden of living with the disease, and the anchoring effect it has on those afflicted.

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