Toward a medical anthropology of sensations: definitions and research agenda

Transcult Psychiatry. 2008 Jun;45(2):142-62. doi: 10.1177/1363461508089763.


In this article, we outline the importance of a medical anthropology of sensations for theories of psychopathology and psychological healing. We define what is meant by ;sensation' (differentiating monomodal and polymodal sensations) and describe some of the mechanisms that generate and amplify sensations. We propose the heuristic use of the concepts of sensation schemas, sensation interpretants, and sensation scripts. We argue against the naive assumption that sensation experience is the same across cultures. Finally, we consider how healing may occur through 'sensation semiosis.'

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Physical*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Attention
  • Culture
  • Depression / psychology
  • Humans
  • Imagination
  • Mental Healing
  • Metaphor
  • Self Concept
  • Sensation*
  • Somatoform Disorders
  • Symbolism

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