Interview of Kyla Schuller
Interviewed for the UCLA Center for the Study of Women’s Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness series. Experiences Chronic Lyme Disease. Has experienced Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University.
- Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness
- Social MovementsEnvironmental Illness
- Biographical Note:
- Interviewed for the UCLA Center for the Study of Women’s Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness series. Experiences Chronic Lyme Disease. Has experienced Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University.
- Schuller, Kyla
- Persons Present:
- Schuller and Kim
- Place Conducted:
- The interview was conducted by telephone.
- Supporting Documents:
- Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
- Interviewer Background and Preparation:
- This interview was conducted by Kelsey Kim, graduate student interviewer, for the Center for the Study of Women. PhD student in Anthropology, UCLA. Kim’s dissertation focuses on gender and racial inequalities in the Silicon Valley high-tech industry.
- Processing of Interview:
- The interviewer prepared for the interview by reading a pre-interview questionnaire completed by the narrator.
- 1 hr
- Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
- Series Statement:
- Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness is a collection of interviews with over seventy individuals living in the U.S. and Canada whose family history, occupation, art practice, or activism have brought them into direct contact with illness experience and disability related to chronic, low-dose exposure to toxicant chemicals. The procurement of this collection (from March 2019 through September 2020) was sponsored by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women under the directorship of Rachel C. Lee, with interviews conducted by six undergraduates, five graduate students, two career staff, and two faculty members at CSW.
Growing up in Chico, California in an agricultural community--Chemical exposures and potential link to childhood illness--Persistent illnesses throughout high school--Incorporating trauma theory in understanding of MCS--Exposure to concept of MCS and self-diagnosis in 2010--Interaction with medical system--Impact of MCS on social life and receptivity of friends to changing products--Diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2013--Considers MCS cured but continues to struggle with chronic Lyme disease--Process of healing from MCS through retraining limbic system’s response to stimuli--Theory of neuroplasticity-based brain retraining model--Lyme disease flare-ups can trigger short-term resurgence of chemical sensitivities--Activism through encouraging individuals to pursue brain-retraining as component of treating MCS and other chronic illnesses--Believes current activism efforts overlook trauma component of MCS--Believes COVID-19 will lead to rise of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and MCS--Importance of addressing both structural and individual-level factors that contribute to MCS--Believes women’s disproportionate rates of trauma contributes to higher rates of women with MCS--Reflections on societal views of and higher rates of environmental illness in next decade--Emphasis on need for more nuanced mind-body approaches