Pathology: the Account of Suffered Experience

From Wikipedia article on pathology:

Pathology (from the Ancient Greek roots of pathos (πάθος), meaning “experience” or “suffering”, and -logia (-λογία), “an account of”) is a significant component of the causal study of disease and a major field in modern medicine and diagnosis.

In my reading, I’m finding this trend where scholars pathologize the attitudes and behaviors of “the other,” be it student, woman, minority, survivor.  Examples:

  • From Judith Herman, the researchers who labelled the female victim of domestic abuse as insufficiently yielding because she was the only one who was willing to talk with them and change her behaviors.
  • From Ruth Leys, all the attempts to define the meaning of trauma using hypnosis.
  • The entire book titled The Shallows.  (Challenged by danah boyd.)

I would argue that these examples represent the kind of positivist trend against which so many fight.  Typically, the pathology is made externally, by an outside observer, someone who has never personally been involved in the subject’s positional experience.

Standpoint indicates the dangers of the privileged attempting to describe the lives of the marginalized.

Perreault’s autography would be a means of resisting such pathologization.

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