Abstract

Diagnosis plays an important role in how we understand disease, and how medicine confirms its status in contemporary society. However, diagnoses are far less concrete than their taxonomies suggest. This essay presents influenza as a case study in the elusive nature of the diagnosis, and in its complicated realities. Using the metaphor of boundary transgression, it reveals the fluidity of diagnosis and the paradoxes presented by the naturalization of diseases. In order to contain influenza, medicine commits other paradoxical transgressions of boundaries. Lay self-diagnosis, use of the lay expression “flu,” and wide reliance upon the belief in the influenza-like syndrome are used to attempt to cement a concrete notion of influenza.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 513-529
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-25
Open Access
No
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