This work provides a phenomenological account of the experience of illness and the manner in which meaning is constituted by the patient and the physician. Rather than representing a shared reality between doctor and patient, illness represents two quite distinct realities - the meaning of one being significantly and qualitatively different from the meaning of the other. Drawing upon insights derived from psychological phenomenology, the author explores this difference and provides a detailed account of the way in which illness and body are apprehended differently by doctor and patient.
The author considers the implications for medical practice, particularly in terms of achieving successful communication between doctor and patient, providing a comprehensive account of illness, alleviating suffering, and devising maximally effective therapeutic interventions. Consideration is given to ways of developing a shared world of meaning through the use of clinical narrative, empathic understanding and an explicit focus on the lifeworld interpretation of illness.
Awarded the first Edwin Goodwin Ballard Prize in Phenomenology.