This timely and assured text provides lecturers and students with a well informed, penetrating analysis of the key questions in medicine and society. The book is divided into three sections. It opens with a well judged account of the context of health and illness. It moves on to examine the process and experience of illness. Finally, it examines how health care is negotiated and delivered.

Ill Bodies in Society

Ill bodies in society

Chapter Summary

This chapter describes:

  • how Cartesian dualism, which divides the physical from the mental, has informed the medical understanding of disease;
  • how dualism facilitates metaphors of bodies as machines, which then permit dissection and reparatory surgical intervention on the body;
  • how medical metaphors of bodies as machines overlook embodied suffering;
  • how mechanistic, pathological views of diseased bodies inform a reductionist view of disability.

Useful Terms for this Chapter

cyborgs: refers to bodies which combine synthetic and organic material to enhance human performance, although the medical integration of technology with human bodies generally aims to restore ‘normal’ function, rather than produce super-human abilities

disability: an impaired person's disability derives from interactions between his (or her) individual capabilities and his (or her) social ...

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