Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 41–54 | Cite as

An Anatomy of Illness

  • David BiroEmail author


Because it focuses primarily on the sick body (disease), medicine ignores many of the concerns and needs of sick people. By listening to the stories of patients in the clinic, on the Internet, and in published book form, health care providers could gain a better understanding of the impact of disease on the person (illness), what it means to patients over and above their physical symptoms and what they might require over and above surgery or chemotherapy. Only by familiarizing themselves with the entire emotional landscape of illness, which includes fear, anger, shame, guilt, and above all loneliness, can the healthy—medicine as well as society in general—hope to heal in a comprehensive manner.


Disease versus illness Existential symptoms Alienation Fear Shame Loneliness 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology SUNY Health Science Center @ BrooklynBrooklynUSA

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