Objectification of the Body as a Terror Management Defense

  • Brent Dean Robbins


Cartesian subject-object metaphysics operative in medical discourse renders it impossible to grapple with the ambiguity of the cadaver. Within this framework, the cadaver seems to present itself as an object, but an object haunted by the subjectivity of the deceased. When understood in light of the lived body, the cadaver can be more appropriately contextualized as an ambiguity that pivots on the dual axis of an anatomical artifact versus a memorial body. When the cadaver becomes too closely identified with the living patient, medicine tends to conflate the object-cadaver with the embodied subject of the living patient. Just as suppression of the memorial body serves a terror management function, so too the objectification of the living patient is a coping mechanism in the face of mortal risk.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyPoint Park UniversityPittsburghUSA

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