Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 587–600 | Cite as

The medically unexplained revisited

  • Thor Eirik Eriksen
  • Anna Luise Kirkengen
  • Arne Johan Vetlesen
Scientific Contribution


Medicine is facing wide-ranging challenges concerning the so-called medically unexplained disorders. The epidemiology is confusing, different medical specialties claim ownership of their unexplained territory and the unexplained conditions are themselves promoted through a highly complicated and sophisticated use of language. Confronting the outcome, i.e. numerous medical acronyms, we reflect upon principles of systematizing, contextual and social considerations and ways of thinking about these phenomena. Finally we address what we consider to be crucial dimensions concerning the landscape of unexplained “matters”; fatigued being, pain-full being and dys-ordered being, all expressive momentums of an aesthetic of resistance.


Medically unexplained disorders Somatoform disorder Functional somatic syndromes Overlapping pains Multi-morbidity Medicalization Colonization of lifeworld Aesthetics of resistance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thor Eirik Eriksen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anna Luise Kirkengen
    • 3
    • 4
  • Arne Johan Vetlesen
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Occupational and Environmental MedicineUniversity Hospital of North NorwayTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, Department of PhilosophyUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway
  3. 3.General Practice Research Unit, Department of Community MedicineUniversity of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  4. 4.Department of Community MedicineUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway
  5. 5.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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