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Illness and the Illness Experience

The CEU Campus
Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 5:30 pm

The CEU Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to a talk

(as part of its Departmental Colloquium series)


Linda Fisher (CEU, Department of Gender Studies)


Illness and the Illness ExperienceTuesday, 21 February 2017, 5.30 PM, Nádor 15, Room 103



Research and writing on illness and the illness experience has grown rapidly over the last decades. While a traditional approach to the illness state was reflected in an emphasis on the objective biomedical elements, more recently researchers have been distinguishing between the disease-state and the experience of illness, whereby the objective biomedical condition is designated as disease and the subjective experience of the condition is illness. As such, we have a disease, but we are ill, signalling the experiential and ontological dimensions of illness. Studies of the illness experience thus focus on the experience and meaning of illness from a lived, subjective perspective.

Many of these studies come from the social sciences, where analyses include the impact of illness on interpersonal relations and social life, as well as issues related to societal and institutional structures. While this work is valuable, there is also increasing recognition of the important role of philosophical examinations of health and illness. In particular, I argue for the necessity of a phenomenology of illness and the illness experience, through which the nature and structure and subjective, experiential dimensions of illness can be unfolded and thematised.

I begin by discussing the notions of disease, illness, and health and then proceed to an analysis of illness and the illness experience, looking at how illness is not simply an isolated physiological or cognitive occurrence, but conditions our generalisedexperience and relationship to the world, transforming senses of self and identity and experiences of temporality, spatiality, and sociality, among others. Finally, I consider the ways in which re-evaluating the illness experience can disrupt and amend conventional assumptions and beliefs about illness, the experience of illness, and the person living that experience.

The talk can be followed online here: