By Beatrix Pfleiderer (auth.), Beatrix Pfleiderer Ph.D., Gilles Bibeau Ph.D. (eds.)
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Extra info for Anthropologies of Medicine: A Colloquium on West European and North American Perspectives
We could call it the 'body self. In part it is a 'body pre-objective', and sometimes it is a 'body silentworking' that exists outside our awareness of it. A phenomenological approach towards the body should also concentrate on this body. Social scientists often believe that the biological aspects of the body are taken care of by biomedicine or the natural sciences. As I have shown, biomedicine can be criticized not only for its lack of attention to society and culture but also because of its reductionistic and particularistic approach towards the phenomenology of the body.
Who is to be blamed? When writing down my immediate body experiences I realize that I miss words. I have to take refuge in abstract and general concepts such as 'feeling like', 'feeling of, and 'as if. There are obviously more 'things" happening inside me than I can communicate properly. The lively, sometimes stormy and wild sensations inside my body cannot even be described in what Bernstein called the 'restrictive code' , they are transformed into the rather lifeless concepts of the 'elaborate code'.
One way is to open our senses to the multiform phenomenology of the body which is usually being neglected. I refer to the different views of bodily symptoms in Chinese culture. A second attempt is found in modern semiotics. I draw heavily on the thoughts that von Uexkiill and Wesiack (1988) have put forth in their fascinating attempt to outline a 'theory of human medicine'. Taking Wittgenstein's assertion that "what we call descriptions are instruments of particular uses" as their point of departure, the authors write: "Assuming that there is an intention behind every description we shall no longer be content with descriptions however fascinating they might be.