The meaning of sensations is culturally embedded and mediated by social practices and symbolic systems of meaning that are important contexts to healing and care-seeking. A transformation of sensations into symptoms interacts with social and collaborative strategies for healthcare seeking.
Abstract (max 250 words) Within medical anthropology research on healthcare seeking has overall focused on trying to understand the context for decision-making processes concerning which kind of care and treatment is sought. The illness itself plays a role in this but what about another analytical unit: the symptom? Recently the importance of attending to bodily sensations in studying illness experience has been brought forward by several researchers, saying that the process of interpreting and organizing sensations into meaningful perceptions is of particular relevance to the anthropology of medicine. Bodily sensations never start as symptoms - they only become symptoms through a social interpretive and collaborative process which has consequences for how and where a patient seeks care. Examining such sensations means to look into what is felt, how the body-subject reacts to sensations and how these are e.g. developed into specific signs of distress or symptoms or perhaps dismissed as non-worrying signs, in a social process. Any sensation is never merely a question of physiology. The meaning of sensations is culturally embedded and mediated by social practices and symbolic systems of meaning that are important contexts to healing and care-seeking. With this panel we wish to invite researchers to present research on symptoms - symptoms in the context of clinical encounters, symptoms as embodied metaphors, symptoms as central to idioms of distress, symptoms as commodities and so forth. Moreover, we wish a focus on how interpretation and management of symptoms may interact with strategies for care as collaboration with both social networks and a health system