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This article explores why fecal incontinence remains a taboo subject and why it is often so difficult for patients to discuss their bowel symptoms. People's attitudes toward feces are complex and rooted in arbitrary social rules and conventions. It is difficult to encompass the full implications of fecal incontinence to those with this problem within a traditional medical model of illness and with cure as the goal of intervention. Many individuals are not cured, despite our best efforts. By recognizing the social dimension of this problem and by incorporating knowledge about coping and control into patient teaching and clinical practice, nurses may better meet the needs of those with fecal incontinence.