Advertisement

The Ecstatic Witness

  • Rita CharonEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 997)

Abstract

Illness insists on the transit of the self. Unbounded by dumb health, the self in illness—either the self of the sick person or the self who ministers to the sick person—finds itself not only freed to but required to move into altered states. When serious physical or mental illness befalls the body, the self must travel outside its ordinary boundaries onto daring expeditions into the unknown. We know this, if only from memoirs written by seriously ill people, yet we tend to underestimate both the reach of such travel and the impossibility of return. When one cares for a seriously ill person—either as a doctor or nurse, a chaplain or ethicist, or a relative or friend—he or she similarly is launched onto perilous travel outside the self, not simply into the awareness of the fragility of health but more fundamentally and transformingly and irrevocably into an identity with that ill person and hence into a subject position from which one must own up to not only the certainty of the self but also the certainty of its end.

Keywords

Sick Person Narrative Medicine Illness Narrative Ordinary Boundary Motorize Wheelchair 
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.

References

  1. Arendt, H. (1998). The Human Condition, 2nd edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Banville, J. (2006). The Sea. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  3. Brooks, C. (1947). The Well-Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.Google Scholar
  4. Butler, J. (2005). Giving an Account of Oneself. New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cavarero, A. (2002). Stately Bodies: literature, philosophy and the question of gender. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  6. Charon, R. (2006). Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Henry, S.G., Zaner, R.M., Dittus, R.S. (2007). “Moving beyond Evidence-Based Medicine,” Academic Medicine, 82: 292–297.Google Scholar
  8. Hull, J. (1990). Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  9. James, H. (1909a). The Novels and Tales of Henry James: The New York Edition, vol. 21. The Ambassadors. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
  10. James, H. (1909b). The Novels and Tales of Henry James: The New York Edition, vol. 23. The Golden Bowl. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
  11. Maxwell, W. (1996). So Long, See You Tomorrow. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  12. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1968). The Visible and the Invisible. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Merleau-Ponty, M. (2002). Phenomenology of Perception. London: Routledge Classics.Google Scholar
  14. Morris, D. (2007). “Un-forgetting Asclepius: An Erotics of Illness.” New Literary History 38: 419–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Petterson P. (2005). Out Stealing Horses. St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press.Google Scholar
  16. Plante D. (1994). “The Secret of Henry James,” The New Yorker 28 (November 1994): 91–99.Google Scholar
  17. Polanyi, M. (1983). The Tacit Dimension. Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith.Google Scholar
  18. Radley, A. (1999). “The Aesthetics of Illness: Narrative, Horror and the Sublime.” Sociology of Health & Illness, 21: 778–796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Scarry, E. (1985). The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Zaner, R.M. (1990). “Medicine and Dialogue,” The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 15:303–325.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Zaner, R.M. (2004). Conversations on the Edge: Narratives of Ethics and Illness. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.the Program in Narrative Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations