Physicians' Power to Name

Definitions of disease rely not only on pathophysiology, but also on social and cultural norms. How physicians use their authority to label patients' conditions affects how symptoms are understood and addressed, whether and to what extent treatments are reimbursed, and patterns of empathy expression towards affected individuals. Contrasts between concepts such as disease and health, illness and wellness, normal and deviant, natural and unnatural, each suggest that medicine's exercise of the power to name is often imperfect and always ethically relevant. 

Volume 20, Number 12: E1113-1216 Full Issue PDF