We tend to expect stories about illness to begin with a diagnosis, and the diagnosed condition then to follow one of three medical plots: the acute, the chronic, or the progressive. Within these plot structures, many variations emerge, in the course of a disease, the choice and effects of treatment, and the patient’s experience of this incursion into her autobiography.
But what happens when the patient is sure a disease is present, even though the doctor says it’s nothing?
Catherine Belling, Assistant Professor of Medical Humanities and Bioethics at Northwestern University, will inaugurate the CHH seminar series for 2012/13 with a talk exploring the narrative structure of hypochondria, where the starting point of diagnosis is prevented—at least until hypochondriasis is diagnosed, at which point the patient/narrator comes to be defined by her lack of credibility in giving an account of her condition. In her talk Catherine will address the following question: What does it mean, for hypochondriacs and their doctors, and for clinical medicine more broadly, that so many patients experience their interactions in the form of such dubious narratives?
Catherine Belling is Assistant Professor of Medical Humanities and Bioethics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Catherine has a PhD in English, from Stony Brook University in New York. Her current work is on fears of disease and of health care in contemporary western culture. She has recently published a book, A Condition of Doubt: The Meanings of Hypochondria for Oxford University Press.
The talk will be at 6pm on Wednesday 26th September, in room S-3.20 (Strand Building, Strand Campus). All are welcome to attend and there is not need to RSVP.