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The disease-subject as a subject of literature

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Author(s): Kottow Andrea | Kottow Michael

Journal: Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine
ISSN 1747-5341

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 10;
Date: 2007;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Based on the distinction between living body and lived body, we describe the disease-subject as representing the impact of disease on the existential life-project of the subject. Traditionally, an individual's subjectivity experiences disorders of the body and describes ensuing pain, discomfort and unpleasantness. The idea of a disease-subject goes further, representing the lived body suffering existential disruption and the possible limitations that disease most probably will impose. In this limit situation, the disease-subject will have to elaborate a new life-story, a new character or way-of-being-in-the-world, it will become a different subject. Health care professionals need to realize that patients are not mere observers of their body, for they are immersed in a reassesment of values, relationships, priorities, perhaps even life-plans. Becoming acquainted with literature's capacity to create characters, modify narratives and depict life-stories in crisis, might sharpen physicians' hermeneutic acumen and make them more receptive to the quandaries of disease-subjects facing major medical and existential decisions in the wake of disruptive disease.
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