Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Soc Sci Med. 2014 Sep;116:134-41. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.06.036. Epub 2014 Jun 27.

A diagnostic illusory? The case of distinguishing between "vegetative" and "minimally conscious" states.

Author information

1
Department of Sociology, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK. Electronic address: sarah.nettleton@york.ac.uk.
2
School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University, Bute Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB, UK. Electronic address: kitzingerj@cardiff.ac.uk.
3
Department of Sociology, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK. Electronic address: celia.kitzinger@york.ac.uk.

Abstract

Throughout affluent societies there are growing numbers of people who survive severe brain injuries only to be left with long-term chronic disorders of consciousness. This patient group who exist betwixt and between life and death are variously diagnosed as in 'comatose', 'vegetative', and, more recently, 'minimally conscious' states. Drawing on a nascent body of sociological work in this field and developments in the sociology of diagnosis in concert with Bauman's thesis of 'ambivalence' and Turner's work on 'liminality', this article proposes a concept we label as diagnostic illusory in order to capture the ambiguities, nuanced complexities and tensions that the biomedical imperative to name and classify these patients give rise to. Our concept emerged through a reading of debates within medical journals alongside an analysis of qualitative data generated by way of a study of accounts of those close to patients: primarily relatives (N = 51); neurologists (N = 4); lawyers (N = 2); and others (N = 5) involved in their health care in the UK.

KEYWORDS:

Ambivalence; Diagnosis; Minimally conscious state; Qualitative; Vegetative

PMID:
24997443
PMCID:
PMC4124517
DOI:
10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.06.036
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center