Phenomenology of Illness, Resilience and Well-Being: A Contribution to Person-Centred Approaches in Healthcare

In Susi Ferrarello (ed.), Phenomenology of Bioethics: Technoethics and Lived Experience. Springer. pp. 33-46 (2021)
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Abstract

In this paper, I am concerned with certain phenomenological contributions to person-centred practices in healthcare. I propose a meaning-centred phenomenological approach to illness and contrast it with certain body-centred and feeling-centred accounts. I suggest that the proposed approach complements, rather than competes with, these other accounts in the area of phenomenology of illness. This is illustrated, for example, by the way the proposed meaning-centred approach tackles certain general challenges to the phenomenology of illness. I pursue this approach to develop an account of illness as involving a loss of meaning. However, I point out that at the heart of illness lies the possibility of resilience. Resilience is existentially understood as enacting a reconstruction of meaning. I point out that resilience and certain related cognitive mechanisms make well-being possible. Here, to be well is existentially understood as being able to find meaning in life. The phenomenological analysis of existential resilience and well-being I offer in this paper indicates that resilient ways of being which enable well-being can be learned; the analysis thus brings to light deep motivations for supporting resilient learning through healthcare practices and policies.

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