One of the first things the narrator tells us about her husband, John, is that he "laughs at [her], [...] but one expects that in a marriage." Further, she says that he is "practical in the extreme," and he does not believe in anything that cannot "be felt and seen and put down in figures." Moreover, the narrator believes that her husband—who is also a doctor—is one of the reasons that she is not getting better faster, in part, because "he does not believe [she is] sick!" John can find no reason for his wife to be ill, no symptoms other than the mental and emotional ones she reports to him, and so he does not think that she actually is ill; he thinks it is all in her head. He tells her and her friends and family that there is "nothing the matter" with her except a "temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency," undermining her own perceptions. Certainly, this seems to invalidate her own feelings of her lived experience, and John does not allow her to have a say, to tell him what would make her feel better. To this end, the narrator says,
I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus—but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad.
Of course it would! This poor woman is prevented from working—reading or writing or even, really, interacting with others—and made to engage in complete rest; for heaven's sake, she's even confined to an attic room with a gate on the stairs and bars on the windows! She feels that her husband (and brother) are trying to help her but their methods do not actually help her. She likely feels guilty for being ill at all, then guilty for doubting her doctors' methods, then resentful of their dismissive treatment of her, and then guilty for that resentment. John seems totally oblivious to this, treating his wife almost more like a child, and failing to recognize that his methods are hurting more than helping her. Therefore, one might argue, in a thesis statement, that the narrator's husband's lack of empathy and respect for his wife's feelings and experiences actually lead to her health deteriorating rather than improving. It is ironic, isn't it, that the so-called "cure" is actually what makes the narrator's illness worse? She reports to us that she feels "exhaust[ed]" [...] having to be so sly about [sneaking in work], or else meet with heavy opposition." Moreover, she says that she gets angry with John, but he encourages her to have "proper self-control" and so she "take[s] pains to control [her]self—before him, at least, and that makes [her] very tired." Again, his lack of empathy for her and his dismissal of her experience actually enables her illness to worsen rather than abate.