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What's in a word: The distancing function of language in medicine

Abstract

Medical language frequently contains linguistic forms that serve to create a social distance between physicians and patients. This distance develops not only out of poor communication with the patient, but also, and more importantly, arises as the language that a physician uses comes to modulate his or her experience of the patient. It is suggested that some of the problem lies in the very nature of language itself, and that further fault can be found in the particular structures of Western language. Unfortunately, however, medical language has adopted special forms and metaphors which further serve to create distance.

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Mintz, D. What's in a word: The distancing function of language in medicine. J Med Hum 13, 223–233 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01137420

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01137420

Keywords

  • Distance Function
  • Special Form
  • Social Distance
  • Poor Communication
  • Linguistic Form