Prevention of Disease and the Absent Body: A Phenomenological Approach to Periodontitis

Dylan Rakhra, Māra Grīnfelde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


A large part of contemporary phenomenology of medicine has been devoted to accounts of health and illness, arguing that they contribute to the improvement of healthcare. Less focus has been paid to the issue of prevention of disease and the associated difficulty of adhering to health-promoting behaviours, which is arguably of equal importance. This article offers a phenomenological account of this disease prevention, focusing on how we – as embodied beings – engage with health-promoting behaviours. It specifically considers how we engage with oral hygiene regimes to prevent periodontitis and why we are not good at it. The article suggests that poor adherence to health-promoting behaviours can be explained with reference to the concept of the absent body, as prevention of disease is generally concerned with pre-symptomatic illness experience. The final section contains a discussion of some strategies for the improvement of disease prevention based on this viewpoint.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019


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