Illness often hides inside a body. Physicians can make it visible by using medical imaging technologies. Some of those technologies also allow patients to have a live view into their own interior. Does such real-time imaging present the ultimate example of a transparent body? Or on the contrary, do technological images of a body that is normally invisible create a sense of alienation? Maud Radstake went looking for answers in the radiology and endoscopy departments of a Dutch hospital.
Visions of illness draws on medical anthropology, (post-)phenomenology and Science and Technology Studies to develop a vocabulary for the description and understanding of techno-visual mediations of patients’ bodies and experiences of illness. It shows how real-time imaging technologies transform how physicians and patients perceive the patient’s body and its conditions and how imaging affects patients’ embodied existence and actions.
Visions of illness will be of interest to social scientists and philosophers concerned with (visual) transformations of bodies in medicine and technology. It also provides challenging input for reflection by physicians and other professionals in health care on the implications of their work for patients and society.
Maud Radstake received her MA degree in medical anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. Visions of illness is the result of her PhD project in the interdisciplinary research program The Mediated Body at the Faculty of Arts and Culture of Maastricht University.