What is the Spoon Theory?
In a blog titled “The Spoon Theory,” Christine Miserandino describes how she showed her friend what it’s like to have lupus.(Lupus often causes fatigue, fever, and joint pain, among other symptoms.) While sitting at a diner, Miserandino handed her friend a “bouquet” of 12 spoons. Each spoon represented a unit of energy. She then asked her friend to describe what her typical day looks like.
Miserandino took away a spoon for every task that she completed: showering, getting dressed with painful joints, standing on a train. Skipping lunch would also cost a spoon. When the spoons were gone, it meant there was barely energy to do anything else. This idea of quantifying energy as spoons, and the idea that people with chronic disease only get a handful of spoons each day, hit home with readers far and wide. “Spoon theory” is now part of the lingo of autoimmune disease. Legions of people call themselves “spoonies,” connect on social media as #spoonies, use spoon theory to explain their chronic disease limitations, and plan their days around the number of spoons they have when they wake up.