Augmenting the cartesian medical discourse with an understanding of the person's lifeworld, lived body, life story and social identity

Nursing Philosophy 10 (4):241-252 (2009)

Using three paradigm cases of persons living with Parkinson's Disease (PD) the authors make a case for augmenting and enriching a Cartesian medical account of the pathophysiology of PD with an enriched understanding of the lived body experience of PD, the lived implications of PD for a particular person's concerns and coping with the illness. Linking and adding a thick description of the lived experience of PD can enrich caregiving imagination and attunement to the patient's possibilities, concerns and constraints. The work of Merleau-Ponty is used to articulate the middle terms of the lived experience of dwelling in a lifeworld. Examining lived experience of embodied intentionality, skilled bodily capacities as highlighted in Merleau-Ponty's non-mechanistic physiology opens new therapeutic, coping and caregiving possibilities. Matching temporal rhythms can decrease the stress of being assisted with activities of daily living. For example, caregivers and patients alike can be taught strategies for extending their lived bodily capacities by altering rhythms, by shifting hyperactivity to different parts of the body and other strategies that change the perceptual experience associated with walking in different environment. A medical account of the pathophysiology of PD is nessessary and useful, but not sufficient for designing caregiving in ways that enrich and extend the existential skills of dwelling of persons with PD. The dominance of mechanistic physiology makes caregivers assume that it is the 'real discourse' about the disease, causing researchers and caregivers alike to overlook the equally real lived experience of the patient which requires different descriptive discourses and different sources of understanding. Lack of dialogue between the two discourses is tragic for patients because caregivers need both in order to provide attuned, effective caregiving.
Keywords Parkinson's Disease  lifeworld  caregiving imagination  lived experience of illness  social identity  embodiment
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DOI 10.1111/j.1466-769X.2009.00413.x
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The Visible and the Invisible.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1968 - Northwestern University Press.
Sources of the Self.Allen W. Wood - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (3):621.

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