Abstract

Theorist Georges Bataille asserts that while sex is common to all animals, only humankind turns sexual activity into erotic activity. Professional medicine today is situated in a space remote from erotic experience. Especially because doctors openly deny that eros and desire hold any relevance to illness, a denial echoed by patients who learn to repeat what doctors believe, it is important to explore a contradictory argument (with its strong supporting evidence) holding that illness and medicine operate within an intrinsically erotic dimension. In this argument, Hippocrates stands as the founder and representative of rational medicine—call it medical logos. The great antagonist of Hippocrates, in a typological division useful in clarifying specific historical moments, is the ancient Greek god, Asclepius. Asclepius and Hippocrates reflect a continuing split within medicine between eros and logos. It is a split some patients and doctors today are openly beginning to question. Especially with reference to the work of four writers—Virginia Woolf, Audre Lorde, Anatole Broyard, and Rafael Campo—this study begins an exploration of interrelations in the modern and postmodern era among eros, illness, and medicine.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-661X
Print ISSN
0028-6087
Pages
pp. 419-441
Launched on MUSE
2007-12-17
Open Access
No
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