HAPSAT Graduate Workshops - First Winter Session

When and Where

Wednesday, January 17, 2024 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Victoria College
91 Charles Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7


Joel West



In-person event

Joel West will present: The Relationship of the Patient and the Physician as Author and Reader

Since the turn of the millennium, a new modality called Narrative Medicine has begun to inform the way in which practitioners do medicine. narrative medicine is grounded in work by William Osler, in the early 20th century where Osler regards the patient as a pedagogical book to be read by the medical practitioner (Osler, 1905).1999 Trisha Greenhalgh started using the words Narrative Medicine as a way of understanding that similar medical results might require radically different diagnoses, depending on the patient's own living history and socio-cultural context (Greenhalgh, 1999). About one year after that, Rita Charon started using the term Narrative Medicine to describe what she calls a physician's "close reading" of what and how the patient describes themselves so as to allow the physician to have greater compassion and empathy (Charon 2001, 2001, 2005). In each of these cases the patient is a text and in each case a narrative is created where the physician "reads" the patient. In my talk I will explore a number of questions including the interrogation of the question of authorship, who is the author of the patient, and in what manner does the physician both participate and impose the idea of being a patient on the person on whom they are treating. The question here is who the author of the text, and if the patient themselves a kind of text, in what ways does the patient consciously write themselves and in what manner is the patient both read and written by the physician. To open up these ideas I will then  explore the idea of authorship in relation to the manner in which physicians "read" or diagnose the patient and furthermore how the patient , using the ideas of Michel Foucault, and his conception of the “medical gaze”, Roland Barthes and his idea of the “Death of the Author” and Umberto Eco’s conceptions that the author and the reader both have a role in completing, performing, and reading the text, to complicate the idea of writer and author in the doctor and patient relationship.

Wednesday January 17 2023, 12—1 PM Room VC211

Save the date for our upcoming session: February 14

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