The body uncanny — Further steps towards a phenomenology of illness

This article is an attempt to analyse the experience of embodiment in illness. Drawing upon Heidegger' sphenomenology and the suggestion that illness can be understood as unhomelike being-in-the-world, I try to show how the way we live our own bodies in illness is experienced precisely as unhomelike. The body is alien, yet, at the same time, myself. It involves biological processes beyond my control, but these processes still belong to me as lived by me. This a priori otherness of the body presents itself in illness in an uncanny and merciless way. The unhomelike breakdown of our everyday being-in-the-world suffered in illness is explored through Heidegger's notion of the world being a “totality of relevance”, a pattern of meaning played out between different “tools”. The lived body is compared to a broken tool that alters and obstruct sour way of being “thrown” and “projecting” ourselves in the meaning patterns of the world through feelings,thoughts and actions. The similarities and differences between this unhomelikeness of illness and the specific unhomelikeness of authentic understanding,reached according to Heidegger in existential anxiety,are discussed. In order to illustrate how the lived body can present itself as “broken” and “other” to its owner, and in what way this unhomelike experience calls for help from health-care professionals, I make use of a clinical example of a severe and common disease: stroke
Keywords authenticity  being-in-the-world  Heidegger  lived body  phenomenology of health and illness  rehabilitation  stroke  unhomelikeness
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/A:1009920011164
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,189
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Havi Carel (2011). Phenomenology and its Application in Medicine. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 32 (1):33-46.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
S. Kay Toombs (1988). Illness and the Paradigm of Lived Body. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 9 (2).
A. Warsop (2011). The Ill Body and Das Unheimliche (the Uncanny). Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 36 (5):484-495.
Anna Hogen (2009). Cartesian Bodies and Movement Phenomenology. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 3 (1):66-74.
Stephen Burwood (2008). The Apparent Truth of Dualism and the Uncanny Body. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (2):263-278.
Antonio R. Damasio (1998). Commentary on Mind, Body, and Mental Illness. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 5 (4):343-345.
H. Carel (2012). Phenomenology as a Resource for Patients. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 37 (2):96-113.
Soren Holm (1998). Mind, Body, and Mental Illness. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 5 (4):337-341.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

53 ( #90,038 of 1,940,952 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #457,800 of 1,940,952 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.