The phrase 'medical humanities' has a currency that is wider than any agreement as to what it means, though those engaged in the field usually know what they are attempting. This volume examines the idea of 'symptom' as a route to understanding the structure of clinical practice. Actual symptoms are always experienced by real, actual individuals - however much those experiences are mediated by language, culture, expectation and the conventions of the clinical consultation. And this in turn is important because it reminds us that health, illness, well-being, suffering are first and foremost aspects of experience. This book asks questions - and offers answers - about the meaning of actual symptoms and of the concept of 'symptom' as a prelude to a cumulative interdisciplinary understanding of illness as a source of human need, and clinical medicine as a human response to it.
The patients’ stories. Music, interrupted: an illness observed from within. The body as lived experience in health and disease. Issues of privacy and intimacy at the beginnings of illness. Vocabulary of health and illness: the possibilities and limitations of language. Seeing ourselves: interpreting the visual signs of illness. The response to suffering. Another day with a headache: Semiotics of everyday symptoms. Giving meaning to symptoms.