3rd Edition

Illness The Cry of the Flesh

By Havi Carel Copyright 2019
    226 Pages
    by Routledge

    226 Pages
    by Routledge

    What is illness? Is it a physiological dysfunction, a social label, or a way of experiencing the world? How do the physical, social, and emotional worlds of a person change when they become ill? Can there be well-being within illness?

    In this remarkable and thought-provoking book, Havi Carel explores these questions by weaving together the personal story of her own illness with insights and reflections drawn from her work as a philosopher. Carel’s fresh approach to illness raises some uncomfortable questions about how we all – whether healthcare professionals or not – view the ill, challenging us to become more thoughtful. Illness unravels the tension between the universality of illness and its intensely private, often lonely, nature. It offers a new way of looking at a matter that affects every one of us.

    Revised and updated throughout, the third edition of this groundbreaking volume includes a new chapter on organ transplantation. Illness: The Cry of the Flesh will prove essential reading to those studying philosophy, medical ethics, and medical anthropology, as well as those in the healthcare and medical professions. It will also be of interest to individuals who live with illness, and their friends and families.

    Preface to the third edition



    1. The body in illness

    2. The social world of illness

    3. Illness as dis-ability and health within illness

    4. Fearing death

    5. Sewn open

    6. Living in the present

    LAM: facts and figures




    Havi Carel is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol, UK. She is author of Life and Death in Freud and Heidegger (2006), Phenomenology of Illness (2016), and co-editor of Health, Illness and Disease (2012).


    "This short, powerful and wise book by noted philosopher Havi Carel has much to offer all those affected by illness. Patients and healthcare professionals, as well as academics with an interest in the experience of illness, should all read this book." Rachel Cooper, University of Lancaster, UK

    "Havi Carel's Illness: The Cry of the Flesh is a wonderful introduction to phenomenology of medicine. It is a clearly written and richly nuanced personal and philosophical account of living with uncertainty, progressive disability, and fear of early death. Epicurus, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and others are used as sources of ideas for living well – creatively and flexibly – with illness. This third edition is revised and updated throughout (including a new chapter on the meaning of organ transplantation), yet keeps the import and directness of the original 2008 edition. I look forward to using it in my Philosophy of Medicine classes." Miriam Solomon, Temple University, USA 

    "Havi Carel weaves her own experience of breathlessness with lessons in the philosophy of health and illness. Combining analysis and memoir, her book shows how philosophy can provide a form of therapy to deal with the expectations and desires that an illness can destroy. The cry of Carel's flesh is philosophically moving and deeply human." David Teira, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain

    "The first edition was a book about suffering, but the third, to me, reads like a book on the philosophical and psychological experience of hope and suffering. This is best encapsulated in the work's own closing words: I continue to ride my electric bike to work, go to yoga class, and see friends and family. I continue to walk my dog, listen to music, write. I continue to live. Sometimes my illness makes life hard. It often takes up more time and space than I would like it to. But it has also given me an ability to bew truly happy in the present, in being here and now. (p. 185) The shadow is overcome." - Alexander Westenberg, Metapsychology 

    Praise for previous editions:

    "One of the most profoundly moving (as well as academically worthwhile) books I have had the pleasure (if that is the correct word) to read. The book will be a useful addition on reading lists for modules that examine illness and disability and death and dying and it has the potential to generate excellent discussions about how both the individual and society deal with illness and disability." Times Higher Education Supplement

    "A thoroughly readable, engaging book which should be warmly welcomed, not only for the personal nature of the writing, but for its ambition to draw on the insights of philosophers to improve the lives of ill people. It is a truly commendable effort which showcases the practical relevance of philosophy by applying it to the concrete situation of illness. Illness reflects the distinctly Epicurean idea of philosophy as ‘medicine for the soul’." Philosophical Quarterly

    "This book achieves something rare among works of philosophy: it speaks with a heartfelt directness that instantly engenders an intimate connection between author and reader. It demands a level of personal engagement, both emotional and self-reflective, that is at times hard to bear, as the author courageously and persistently lays before us the painful details of her experiences of being ill and shares with us the philosophical insights that those experiences have informed or inspired. Despite its profoundly unsettling subject-matter, the book is eminently readable and engrossing; it exhibits a depth of humanity that is sadly lacking in much of the increasingly technical and jargon-laden products of contemporary philosophical discourse, and constitutes a vivid testament to the possibility of philosophical optimism in the face of potentially crushing adversity." International Journal of Philosophical Studies

    "Illness makes a powerful argument for exploring the experience of illness and the associated philosophical questions. Carel’s inclusion of herself in the book is often moving and shows well the power of bringing philosophy and personal life together." Philosophy in Review

    "This book offers an important contribution to the ongoing project of the phenomenology of illness, and offers a powerful argument for the inclusion of applied phenomenology in medical and healthcare training. One of the main strengths of this book is that it forces you to think, and to think philosophically. Carel neatly lifts philosophy off the page, and places it out there like a talisman in our everyday life. The book deserves to be read widely by the public, and I would suggest needs to be read widely by clinical practitioners as a point of reference for their own practice." Metapsychology

    "Illness offers us something that we all need to read and think about … If I were to write a book about illness, I would want it to be just like this one." Arena

    "A marvelous book … a very clear and detailed account of the phenomenology of illness and the contribution it could make to medical practice and research." Homeopathy

    "A masterpiece. Moving seamlessly between an unsparingly honest personal narrative and philosophical reflections on our condition as embodied subjects, Havi Carel has fashioned a uniquely authentic account of the lived experience of illness. It should be read – and reread – by everyone who is professionally involved with illness, who is ill, or is likely to become ill; which is to say, by all of us." Raymond Tallis, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and formerly Professor of Geriatric Medicine, University of Manchester

    "A genuinely important philosophical work. Carel succeeds in offering a wide-ranging, original, wholly convincing and quite beautiful account of the phenomenology of illness. This is a remarkably insightful book about what it is to be human and how to live. Anybody who cares about who they are and how they live ought to read it." Matthew Ratcliffe, Professor of Philosophy, University of Durham

    "A tremendous achievement, as well as being a very moving personal document." Christopher Bertram, Professor of Social and Political Philosophy, University of Bristol