The Phenomenology of Health and Illness

  • Fredrik Svenaeus
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 68)


During the last three decades we have witnessed what might be called a revival of the philosophy of medicine and health. For different reasons the insight has become more widespread that the success of medical science by itself will never provide us with answers to all problems of clinical practice. Medical science itself does not provide us with a language in which we can carry out a philosophy of medicine and health; that is, a language in order to broach such questions as ‘What is medicine?’ and ‘What is health?’2 In this paper I will suggest that phenomenology provides us with such a language in its focus on lived experience — that is the feelings, thoughts and actions of the individual person living in the world. Such a theory of health will of course be normative, since it will fundamentally rely on the individual’s interpretation and evaluation of his situation and not only on a biological investigation of his body.3 The physiology of the body, however, certainly affects and sets limits to the different ways we are able to experience and interpret our being-in-the-world. To develop a phenomenological theory of health is, therefore, not intended as an attempt to replace biomedical research. In light of the successful history of modern medicine that would certainly be an absurd project. Phenomenology is meant to enrich our understanding of health in adding to the disease-level analysis a level of analysis that addresses the questions of how the physiological states are lived as meaningful in an environment.


Human Existence Phenomenological Analysis Break Tool Existential Crisis Phenomenological Psychology 
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

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fredrik Svenaeus
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LinköpingLinköpingSweden

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