The third speaker: The body as interlocutor in conventional, complementary, and integrative medicine encounters

Authors

  • Sonya Elizabeth Pritzker University of Alabama
  • Jennifer Guzman State University of New York at Geneseo
  • Ka-Kit Hui David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Derjung Tarn David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.32577

Keywords:

agency, biomedicine, body, clinical encounters, complementary/alternative medicine, micro-interaction

Abstract

This paper examines talk about the body in interactions between patients and their complementary/ alternative providers (CAM), integrative physicians (IM), or conventional physicians. In an analysis of 603 consultations, we focus on instances where the body is spoken of in agentive terms. We thus examine particular micro-interactive moments where the body is constituted as an agent that speaks, responds, and otherwise acts in ways that direct the flow of conversation or the medical decision-making process. With this data, we demonstrate how body-as-agent metaphors in the clinical encounter underscore the communicative agency of providers and position the body as an interlocutor or ‘third speaker’ in conversation with the patient and provider. We further note that we found only limited differences in the ways body-as-agent metaphors were used by CAM/IM and conventional providers. Rather than arguing that such differences demonstrate a fundamental divide between CAM/IM and conventional approaches, we therefore suggest that these kinds of supportive body-as-agent talk exist as opportunities for all providers to support patients in taking a more active stance in managing their relationship with their body.

Author Biographies

Sonya Elizabeth Pritzker, University of Alabama

Sonya E. Pritzker is a linguistic and medical anthropologist.Her research interests include embodimentand communication and the development of Chinesemedicine in the US and China.

Jennifer Guzman, State University of New York at Geneseo

Jennifer Guzmán conducts research at the intersection of linguistic and medical anthropology. Her research in Chile and the US examines provider–patient communication across a range of conventional, complementary, and indigenous medical paradigms.

Ka-Kit Hui, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Ka-Kit Hui is the Wallis Annenberg Professor in Integrative East-West Medicine and Founder and Director of the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine at the Department of Medicine of the David Geffen School of Medicine.

Derjung Tarn, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Derjung M. Tarn is a practicing family physician and health services researcher whose research focuses on physician–patient communication about prescription medications, dietary supplements, and complementary and alternative medicine.

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Published

2018-10-26

How to Cite

Pritzker, S. E., Guzman, J., Hui, K.-K., & Tarn, D. (2018). The third speaker: The body as interlocutor in conventional, complementary, and integrative medicine encounters. Communication and Medicine, 14(3), 256–267. https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.32577

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Section

Articles