Creative Enquiry: Narratives about embodied persons as a way of bridging of the psyche-soma gap

Talk Code: 
Stefan Hjorleifsson
Kjersti Lea
Author institutions: 
Department of global health and primary care, University of Bergen, Norway, Department of education, University of Bergen, Norway


General practice is in need of a philosophical anthropology that avoids the psyche-soma distinction and other similar hyphenations as in the bio-psycho-social model.


Drawing on the theories of Taylor (on what it means to be a person), Leder (on the lived body) and Gadamer (on interpretation and “the enigma of health”) we will present a narrative account of patients as embodied persons who are socially situated and hold moral values. We will present the case history of a man called Zac who suffers extensive and troublesome symptoms that exceed his capacity for self-management. Zac’s symptoms also defy his general practitioner’s understanding, and the patient risks excessive and harmful investigations. Our narrative account of this person indicate a way of interpreting his symptoms that relates Zac’s interpretation of his embodied situation to his values and aspirations.


The above narrative about Zac’s predicament avoids perpetuating a dichotomous understanding of the psyche-soma relationship and may enable Zac and his doctor to engage with the patient’s health problems in a more adequate, truthful and constructive way than does a conventional biomedical approach.


A narrative and morally grounded understanding of embodied personhood can be particularly helpful in complex situations where health and health problems traverse conventional boundaries between body and mind.

Submitted by: 
Stefan Hjorleifsson
Funding acknowledgement: