Chapter

Medicine’s Ghost

Catherine Belling

in A Condition of Doubt

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199892365
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199950096 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199892365.003.0011
Medicine’s Ghost

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This chapter examines the challenges of writing a medical history of hypochondria, which lacks any transhistorical biological form. Instead a cultural history of the name must be told. I survey this history, from Hippocratic anatomical term through its exclusion by pathological anatomy from lesion-based taxonomies of disease and the term's reattribution to mental illness. In the late twentieth century it emerges in the form of communal or cultural hypochondria, associated with changes in the public culture of health and in the practices of clinical ethics, but it continues to function as the shadow self of medicine, defined as patient error and thus by the changing content of what medicine thinks it trusts itself to know for sure.

Keywords: history; humoral medicine; melancholia; pathological anatomy; psychiatry; clinical ethics; informed consent

Chapter.  8474 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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