Resisting the ‘Patient’ Body: A Phenomenological Account

Sarah Pini, Ruggero Pini

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


According to the biomedical model of medicine, the subject of the illness event is the pathology rather than the person diagnosed with the disease. In this view, a body-self becomes a ‘patient’ body-object that can be enrolled in a therapeutic protocol, investigated, assessed, and transformed.
How can it be possible for cancer patients to make sense of the opposite dimensions of their body-self and their body-diseased-object? Could a creative embodied approach enable the coping with trauma tied to the experience of illness?
By applying a phenomenological approach and auto-ethnographic analysis to the experience of cancer, this visual exploration provides support for rethinking the cancer event through a performative perspective. This work previews images and video material collected over ten years of onco-haematological treatments, video dance performances and physical explorations.
This work displays how processes of healing can be set in motion by creative embodied practices, physical explorations and unexpected journeys. By resisting the biomedical model and allowing the emergence of new meanings, it illustrates how dance and performative practices offer ground for transformation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Embodied Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29. May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Phenomenology of the Body
  • Dance
  • Illness Narrative
  • Embodied Practices
  • Cancer Treatments
  • Autoethnography


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