Identity, Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces, and the Indifference of Love

Douglas L. Kelley 1 *

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp. 139-152

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The present autoethnography uses stories, pauses for reflection, and social scientific theory to explore two-plus years of identity deconstruction, as well as passive and active identity reconstruction, following a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia and eventual stem cell transplant. I cast these parallel identity processes in terms of centripetal force, a result of loss of volition expressed through victim/patient syndrome, monitoring fatigue, disability bias, isolation, and dehumanization; and, centrifugal force as characterized by an increase in volition and expressed through the contemplative practices of centering prayer, T’ai Chi, and guided imagery. Central to these practices is the dynamism between nonresistance and refocus. I finish this exploration by suggesting that two manifestations of centrifugal force are spaciousness and love arising from indifference.

Keywords: Identity, centripetal force; centrifugal force, love, cancer.