Article Text

Download PDFPDF
On identity in (the) Medical Humanities
  1. Deborah Bowman
  1. Correspondence to Professor Deborah Bowman, Room 6.73, Division of Population Health Sciences and Education, St George's, University of London, London SW17 0RE, UK; dbowman{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Questions of identity are inherent in health, illness and medicine. Those who live with illness often describe how the experience represents a challenge to, and change in, their identities. Those who aspire to treat illness and those entrusted with caring for the sick grapple with shifting personal and professional identities. For an editor relatively new in the post, matters of identity are preoccupying. How is the journal perceived? Who are our readers and our contributors? What is this field we call ‘medical humanities’ and where does this publication sit?

These are some of the questions that have informed recent conversations with the editorial team at Medical Humanities. The discussions that have ensued have been rich and thought provoking, leading to a programme of planned development for the journal. It is a process that demands attention to identity. It serves as a reminder of the complexity and tensions inherent in defining and understanding identity. Identity may be both liberating and constraining. It is shaped and affirmed by a potent interplay of individual preferences and collective factors. Identity may be declared, elusive or assumed. It is a shifting, nuanced and contestable concept that is socially and philosophically situated.

Most people writing for, or reading, this journal will be comfortable with the contextual nature of identity. …

View Full Text


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.