The Interpretation of Illness

The Interpretation of Illness
  • Engels
  • Paperback
  • 9780911198881
  • december 1988
  • 240 pagina's
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Georg Groddeck (1866-1934), who was trained as a physician but became famous for his success as a healer, introduced a radical concept in The Book of It that we virtually always cause our own illness and injury; therefore, we can cure and avoid both. Groddeck utilized the technique of psychoanalysis - which had just been invented by Freud - to communicate with the source of the illness, which he called the the it (or the map of the psyche). He believed the it had the power to cure illness as well as cause it. Perhaps science is catching up with Groddeck's notion, for modern currents in medicine suggest there is a linkage between the way we live, the way we think, and illness. Readings in behavioral medicine indicate that we do have control over our immune system; and empirical studies of behavior show a strong relationship between stress and illness. In The Interpretation of Illness, Homer goes beyond Groddeck's initial insight to emphasize that illness is a communication to others, especially a call for sympathy. No one consciously likes to be sick or hurt; but we all, consciously or unconsciously, tell others about our ills, expecting them to extend sympathy. Homer argues that if we change this pattern of communication - either by learning to forego sympathy or by gaining it in less destructive ways - we can prevent illness or alleviate existing symptoms. The change in communication involves expressing ourselves knowingly and deliberately to others. Interpretation is a series of letters from Homer, writing under the persona Augie, to a friend. Appropriately enough, this style is similar to the format used by Groddeck in The Book of the It.


Homer's conclusion is innovative, startling, and controversial. He argues that the self relates existentially to the world and a way to accomplish social or interpersonal purposes. The Social Science Journal [Homer] insightfully addresses the many facets of disease complexes. His metamorphical view that illness can be interpreted will bode well with those of us who approach illness from a biopsychosocial context. --B. Michael Denny This book should certainly provoke discussion in many quarters. Considering the impact of existentialism . . . it will be fascinating to see what effect this book will have on the medical psychiatric, and psychological community. --Joanne Greenburg Although interpretive methods have been widely discussed in the social and psychological sciences over the past decade, I know of no other work that puts them into operation directly on the personal experience of life. This work combines sophistication and insight, generating a new method for grasping the symbolism of the psyche, presented effectively and imaginatively . . . . [It] has appeal across a wide range of disciplines from psychology to philosophy to literate theory. --Michael Weinstein



Aantal pagina's
240 pagina's


Frederic D. Homer
Purdue University Press


Originele Titel
The Interpretation of Illness



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