Life = Body Plus X

Paul U. Unschuld

in What Is Medicine?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257658
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944701 | DOI:
Life = Body Plus X

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This chapter focuses on the human body and examines a commonly used name for the invisible something, the spirit or soul, denoted by X. It is assumed that the body cannot live without a soul and the soulless body exists only as a dead body. An endeavor to explain certain functions of the body, and with that to explain certain human behaviors, leads to the assumption of invisible, intangible, but nevertheless real parts of the living body. The names for X are adapted to their context of interpretation, sometimes religious, sometimes secular. Certain conventions can impress themselves in a cultural context. The ethereal and astral parts of the body are differentiations of X. The idea emerged that a body and its X could seem totally normal or healthy to the naïve observer, but still be classified by experts as sick or abnormal. Even in very early times, there was a differentiation between illness of the tangible, visible body and illness of X, the intangible, invisible spirit.

Keywords: human body; spirit; soul; human behaviors; living body; death; psychosomatics; astral parts of the body

Chapter.  2330 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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