Abstract

Recent theoretical developments in the feminist conceptualization of embodiment have radically reworked the ways that the body can be thought. In many respects, this challenges the understanding not only of the body as medicine deploys it, but also our understandings of suffering, illness, and pathology. I argue that (un)expected suffering is a particular difficulty in clinical settings, both in the form of suffering that is expected but not experienced by patients, and in suffering that is experienced but not expected. These theoretical developments offer ways of approaching suffering and vulnerability that could enhance clinical practice. This paper takes up Merleau-Ponty's investigations of bodily being-in-the-world, inflected by feminist adaptations of his work, to argue that these developments can provide an alternative approach to how we understand vulnerability, pathology, and suffering, which enables both a more ethical engagement with the unique experiences of the suffering other, and a politics better able to recognize and thereby negotiate with (un)expected suffering.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1937-4577
Print ISSN
1937-4585
Pages
pp. 105-125
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-18
Open Access
No
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