The Anticipatory Corpse
Medicine, Power, and the Care of the Dying
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
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One Sunday morning several years ago, Nancy met me after the early service at church.1 She walked up to me with the urgency of a determined woman. She said, “Jeff, I am yellow, and I need you to be my doctor.” I turned my eyes from engagement with Nancy to look carefully...
1. Birthing the Clinic
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As with any project that begins by taking up a thesis of Michel Foucault, one must first discuss Foucault himself. That is, I must give some account of how I understand Foucault’s work, particularly his work on medicine, psychiatry, and the social sciences. Yet placing Foucault is no small task. ...
2. Maturing the Clinic
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The development of medicine, in terms of Michel Foucault’s analysis, is not a continuous process, moving progressively forward. Different strands of medicine originating from different schools of thought co-existed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, often loosely woven together...
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I have argued that the medical school, where master, student, and patient encounter one another, is constituted by political agreements. Here, warring notions of science and practice are wedded together, and differences in ideas, however well or poorly thought-out, are minimized. ...
3. The Machinations of Life
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Death in contemporary Western society is no longer an affair embedded in shared social contexts, from which it derives its significance. There are few cultural practices that prepare contemporary Westerners for death in the way they were prepared in earlier Western society, as Philippe Ariès...
4. Embracing Death
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No practitioner of medicine wants to turn a person into an object, an object that he subjects to technological manipulation in the ICU. Yet the pragmatism of medicine focuses on ways to manipulate the physiological body. Medical scientists of the 1950s and 1960s focused their research...
5. Commissioning Death: From Living Cadavers to Dead Brains
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The President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research published its findings in 1981 on the topic of brain death. The document, titled Defining Death,1 was the culmination of a long discussion beginning in the mid-1960s...
6. The Exact Location of Death: From Brain to Sovereign
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The 1981 President’s Commission settled on two ways of diagnosing death: irreversible cessation of function of heart and lungs, or irreversible cessation of whole-brain function.1 The term “irreversible” is central to both, a point that I shall discuss later. With the support of a consensus-driven...
7. The Sovereign Subject and Death
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Thus far I have claimed that, on the one hand, various attempts to redefine death—whether in the 1980s or in recent years—turn to physiological ideas to either define death or to define criteria by which one could claim that an individual has died, although several of these partisans...
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In this book I have taken as my starting point Michel Foucault’s thesis that at the heart of medicine is a dead body. This dead body begins as an epistemological ground for medicine, but it also has metaphysical import. Time is frozen in the space of this body. Never mind that, in reality...
8. The Discursive Turn
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Practitioners of medicine and psychiatry began to notice the crassness of functional biological/physiological medicine in the late 1960s and early 1970s. With the appearance in 1963 of such works as Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death, on the funeral industry,1...
9. The Palliating Gaze
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Like Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement, addressed questions about the way medicine treated those for whom no curative therapy was possible. Whereas Kübler-Ross employed a psychological and psychiatric lens, Saunders...
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Medicine’s epistemology and its metaphysics, I have argued, shape the way we think of and care for the dying. Whether medicine’s epistemology structures its metaphysics or its metaphysics informs its epistemology is irrelevant. Metaphysics and epistemology often go hand in hand. ...
10. Anticipating Life
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I want to believe that no doctor, nurse, psychologist, social worker, or chaplain enters the field of health care to exercise mastery over other people, to become part of a totalizing biopolitical regime, or to totalize the bodies of the dying. On their application forms to colleges and other schools...
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Index [Includes About the Author and Back Cover]
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Page Count: 440
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: Notre Dame Studies in Medical Ethics