The Experience of Pain and its Clinical Implications

  • Drew Leder
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 40)


Diagnosis is an ontological event. That is, to arrive at a diagnosis is not simply to solve a puzzle; it is to ratify a vision of reality. When the words “peptic ulcer disease”, for example, are pronounced, the ambiguous complaints of the patient — gnawing pain, hunger, and the like — are reorganized into a medically defined world. Events take on a new spatial contour: they now center around and radiate from the duodenum. Causality is given a mechanistic reading. It is physiological mechanisms — the secretion of acid, the erosion of tissues — that order this world. As diagnosis goes hand-in-hand with prognosis, a projected future is brought into being. Moreover, a certain course of action is prescribed, as diagnosis helps determine the proper mode of treatment. The symptoms of the patient are thus captured within a structured world-view, with spatial, temporal, causal, and prescriptive dimensions.


Peptic Ulcer Disease Medical Encounter Voluntary Euthanasia Ontological Event Therapeutic Encounter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Drew Leder
    • 1
  1. 1.Loyola College in MarylandBaltimore

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