Social and Cultural Lives of Immune Systems introduces a provocative new hypothesis in medico-social theory - the theory that immunity and disease are in part socially constituted. It argues that immune systems function not just as biological entities but also as symbolic concepts charged with political significance. Bridging elements of psychology, sociology, body theory, immunology and medical anthropology, twelve papers from leading scholars explain some of the health-hazards of emotional and social pressure, whilst analysing the semiotic and social responses to the imagery of immunity.
Introduction: Social and Cultural Lives of Immune Systems in a Semiotic Universe PART 1: THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES 2. Telling Stories: The health Benefits of Disclosure 3. Relating to Our Worlds in a Psychbiological Context: The Impact of Disclosure on Self-Generation and Immunity 4. Metaphors Our Bodyminds Live By 5. 'Immune' to Emotion: The Relative Absence of Emotion in PNI, and Its Centrality to Everything Else PART 2: PNI IN THE WILD: ANTHROPOLOGICAL FIELDWORK USING ENDOCRINE AND IMMUNE VARIABLES 6. Childhood Street: Endocrine and Immune Responses to Psychosocial Events 7. Cultural Congruity and the Cortisol Street Response among Dominican Men 8. Life Event Stress and Immune Function in Samoan Adolescents: Toward a Cross-Cultural Psychoneuroimmunology PART 3: CIVILIZATION AND ITS STRESSED DISCONTENTS: FROM INDIVIDUAL STRESS TO CROSS-NATIONAL COMPARISONS 9. The Enigma of Hypertension and Psychosomatic Illness: Lessons for Psychoneuroimmunology From Beyond the Conscious Mind 10. Cultural Variations in the Placebo effect: Ulcers, Anxiety and Blood Pressure 11. Corporeal Flows: The Immune System and the Political Economy of Food PART 4: CRITICAL RETROSPECTIVES 12. Stressful Encounters of an Immunological Kind: The Social Dimensions of Psychoneuroimmunology 13. Reflections on Embodiment