Chronic Fatigue: An Ethnography: Exploring the Social by Stuart Hardman

By Stuart Hardman

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Additional resources for Chronic Fatigue: An Ethnography: Exploring the Social Philosophy of Disease and Healing

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Aesthetics, Rationality, and Medical Anthropology Illness as an ―aesthetic object‖ refers to how we analyze the disjunction between disease as an object (or condition of a physical body), as it is popularly (and medically) conceived, and disease as a presence in a life or in a social world (Ibid: 166). The proclivity for naturalism and biological reductionism is thus challenged. ―The aesthetic object is a particularly complex and dynamic form of relationship [it is] a relationship which depends upon and yet transcends performance and audience, reader and text, the material object and a reflexive, sensuous response‖ (Ibid: 167).

Magical Fright‖ (espantos or ―Soul Loss‖), he stated, ―exists in the thinkings of people and in the culture of the group and produces elements which for all practical purposes are quite real. A man‘s anxiety does not have to be based on the germ theory of disease to make him ill,‖ he concludes in his original essay. This straight forward approach to ultra-psychic processes and culture was considered quite unique at the time‖ (Ibid). The main point being made is that the subjective experience of traditional illnesses is shaped both by the cultural background of individuals, and by the sociological features of the setting where these individuals live.

The ―story‖ presented is a story of disease processes, localized spatially in disease tissue lesions and disordered physiology and temporally in abstract, medicalized time ([Frankenberg 1988c] paraphrased in Ibid). The person, the subject of suffering, is represented as the site of disease rather than as a narrative agent‖ (Ibid). So with the strict focus on the identification of pathologies and the application of medical therapies, the result is that the 'lifeworld' of the patient is neglected as is now widely documented in the medical social science literature (Ibid).

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