Pablo Andreu - ‘On the Patient’s Agency - a Phenomenological Approach to Medical Praxis’

Season five of our podcast continues with another presentation from our 2020 annual conference: ‘Engaged Phenomenology’ Online. This episode features Pablo Andreu, University of Zaragoza (Spain).

 

ABSTRACT: George Canguilhem has affirmed that pathology, far from being a state of abnormality, should be considered as another way of life (Canguilhem, 1978, p. 45). According to Canguilhem, being healthy is not the same as being “normal”, what he considers to be an inapplicable concept to biology, but normative, this is, making of a way of life a norm. If accepted, such consideration not only affects what we take to be “pathological”, it also questions what the nature of medical practice is, and what this praxis should be to start. Specifically, if illness is not something that bursts into existence and interrupts it, but rather a new mode of existence properly speaking, then what role, if any, does a patient play in the understanding we have of their illness, and what importance should be attributed to this role during the medical treatment. To this aim, an approach to pathology and medical praxis from a phenomenological point of view seems promising. Martin Heidegger’s notion of care (Sorge) and Paul Ricoeur’s concept of narrative identity could explain the existential shift on a patient’s existence. But tracing illness as a continuity rather than an interruption could be problematic, questioning our very understanding of recovery. In other words, to what extent would a phenomenological approach to medical practice entail a methodological and epistemological differentiation between medically treating a patient and healing a person, and, more importantly, would this demarcation be constructive for the patient’s wellbeing to begin with? The task, hence, is double: on the one hand, to state the benefits phenomenology can bring to medicine; on the other, its plausibility. The following article aims to do so by following the personal account of a cancer fighter, evaluating it through the lens of Heidegger’s notion of care and Ricoeur’s concept of narrative identity.

 

BIO: Pablo Andreu is a PhD Student at the University of Zaragoza, Spain. Mainly focused on phenomenology, and specifically the phenomenology of death, Pablo Andreu has also approached analytic philosophy through the Master’s program offered by the University of Barcelona.

 

This recording is taken from the BSP Annual Conference 2020 Online: 'Engaged Phenomenology'. Organised with the University of Exeter and sponsored by Egenis and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health. BSP2020AC was held online this year due to global concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic. For the conference our speakers recorded videos, our keynotes presented live over Zoom, and we also recorded some interviews online as well. Podcast episodes from BSP2020AC are soundtracks of those videos where we and the presenters feel the audio works as a standalone: https://www.britishphenomenology.org.uk/bsp-annual-conference-2020/

 

You can check out our forthcoming events here:

https://www.britishphenomenology.org.uk/events/

The British Society for Phenomenology is a not-for-profit organisation set up with the intention of promoting research and awareness in the field of Phenomenology and other cognate arms of philosophical thought. Currently, the society accomplishes these aims through its journal, events, and podcast. Why not find out more, join the society, and subscribe to our journal the JBSP? https://www.britishphenomenology.org.uk/

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