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Making Breath Visible: Reflections on Relations between Bodies, Breath and World in the Critical Medical Humanities

Macnaughton, Jane

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Abstract

Breath is invisible and yet ever present and vital for living beings. The concept of invisibility in relation to breath operates in concrete and metaphorical ways to extend ideas about breath and breathlessness across disciplines, in clinical spaces and in life experience. Using a critical medical humanities approach, I demonstrate that the poverty of narrative accounts and language for breath outside the health context have had a crucial influence enabling clinically mediated interpretations and accounts to dominate. These third-person accounts are important in the articulation of the ‘lived body’, but I balance this with a consideration of the subjective sensation of interoception, which has important implications for the visibility of breathlessness in both clinical and lay contexts. This article illustrates the rich potential of the subjects of breath and breathlessness within body studies and this special issue is a key step in making breath such an emergent topic.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Apr 27, 2020
Publication Date Jun 30, 2020
Deposit Date May 21, 2020
Publicly Available Date May 22, 2020
Journal Body and Society
Print ISSN 1357-034X
Electronic ISSN 1460-3632
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 2
Pages 30-54
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/1357034x20902526
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1263885

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