An introduction to medical phenomenology: I can't hear you while I'm listening

Ann Intern Med. 1985 Oct;103(4):606-11. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-103-4-606.


A great gulf exists between the way we think about disease as physicians and the way we experience it as people. Much of this separation derives directly from our basic assumptions about what illness is. Our medical world view is rooted in an anatomicopathologic view of disease that precludes a rigorous understanding of the experience of illness. What we need to remedy this problem is not just the admonition to remember that our patients are people, but a radical restructuring of what we take disease to be. The philosophic discipline of phenomenology is used to present a vision of disease that begins with an understanding of illness as it is lived. "Nonmedical" descriptions of illness show how we can reorient our thinking to encompass both our traditional paradigm and one that takes human experience as seriously as it takes anatomy.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical
  • Humanities
  • Humans
  • Philosophy, Medical*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*