Managing One's Body Using Self-Management Techniques: Practicing Autonomy
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics. 2000 Jan; 21(1): 23-38.
This paper discusses some of the anthropological and philosophical features of the use of self-management plans by patients with a chronic disease, focusing on patients with asthma. Characteristics of this technologically mediated form of self-care are contrasted with the work of Mauss and Foucault on body techniques and techniques of self. The similarities and differences between self-management of asthma and Foucault's technologies of self highlight some of the ways in which self-management contributes to modifications in the definitions of patients and physicians. Patients, in measuring their lung function, first come to rely on measurements more than on felt disturbances, but next, felt disturbances become modified by previous measurements. Physicians, one the other hand, see their role changed from expert to being a participant in a joint treatment. It is argued that the concept of agency is more appropriate for describing the advantage of self-management for patients than autonomy.
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