Essay On Embodiment

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Embodiment is the process in which the body as an object is actively experienced, transformed, sustained and finally developed into a subjective body (Waskul, D & Vannini, P. 2006). The body is not merely a vessel to exist in, and the objective-body cannot be separated from the subjective-body. The body may thus be experienced from a multitude of angles, for example, socially, culturally, psychologically, physiologically, clinically, phenomenologically and even religiously, allowing both patients and Healthcare Practitioners (HCPs) to understand illnesses and manage them holistically. Holistic management of patients is concerned not only with their medical conditions, but also the recognition that they are lived bodies with psycho-socio-environmental components (Nettleton, S. 2008. In: Gilbert, L, Selikow, T & Walker, L. 2009, pg 40). These all shape the way in which patients experience illness, and how HCPs may approach the patient-illness unit as a whole. One such theoretical holistic approach uses the concept of embodiment from the perspective of four interlinked bodies: the physiological body, which is the physical, anatomical body; the phenomenological body, which is the subjective, lived experience of the person; the social body, which is the societal/environmental/political make-up of the body; and the clinical body, described as the medical body as perceived by HCPs. The clinical body may integrate any or all of the first three bodies, depending on the education and area of specialisation of the HCP (Lectures 1-3, SOCL1016. 2014). An alternative theory to integration of bodies is that of Cartesian Dualism, an idea that divides the body into a ‘palpable body’ and a ‘tangible mind’ (Scheper‐Hughes, N., & Lock, M. 1987, ... ... middle of paper ... ...ing the four-body theory as a perspective of the embodiment-disembodiment-re-embodiment process is that the process is assumed to be similar for all patients, but different women may experience the disembodiment and re-embodiment in entirely different ways, for example, breast implants may not have as positive an impact as a woman may have hoped, or a patient may suffer complications such as unequal breasts as a result of surgery. The four-body theory and the process of embodiment-disembodiment-re-embodiment in the case of breast cancer effectively demonstrate how patients normalise through the decomposition and subsequent recomposition of the bodies, and resume ‘bodied’ lives after their illnesses. Furthermore, HCPs with an understanding of the theory and processes are better equipped to provide not just medical treatment, but a holistic experience for the patient.
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