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Book review
Medical humanities companion: volume one
  1. Richard Meakin
  1. Correspondence to Dr Richard Meakin, Department Primary Care & Population Health, UCL Medical School, Royal Free Campus, Rowland Hill St, London NW3 2PF, UK; r.meakin{at}

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Edited by Martyn Evans, Rolf Ahlzen, Iona Heath. , Jane Macnaughton, Published by Radcliffe, Oxford, 2008, pp 136. £24.99. ISBN 9781846192869

That experiential change in a person's body that is known as a symptom is both the starting point for the journey that leads a person to a medical encounter and the starting point for the medical encounter. It has a subjective quality born out of the experience of the person and an intersubjective quality born in the communication of that experience to the doctor or other healthcare professional in the medical encounter. This subjectivity and its primacy in the experience of illness make an exploration of the symptom an appropriate starting point for a series entitled the Medical humanities companion.

The editors stated aim is to ‘explore the idea of symptoms, their experiential reality and their significance’. In addressing this aim they have set themselves the task of ‘bringing together different disciplinary viewpoints simultaneously to bear on a common object of enquiry’. However, despite their intention to broaden the enquiry away from a single discipline approach, it is clear on reading the book that there seems to be a bias towards the philosophical disciplines. The …

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  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.