PhilSci Archive

At the border of medical reasoning - aetiological and ontological challenges of medically unexplained symptoms

Eriksen, Thor Eirik and Kerry, Roger and Mumford, Stephen and Lie, Svein Anders Noer and Anjum, Rani Lill (2013) At the border of medical reasoning - aetiological and ontological challenges of medically unexplained symptoms. Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, 8. ISSN 1747-5341

[img] Microsoft Word

Download (108kB)


Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) remain recalcitrant to the medical profession, proving less suitable for homogenic treatment with respect to their aetiology, taxonomy and diagnosis. While the majority of existing medical research methods are designed for large scale population data and sufficiently homogenous groups, MUS are characterised by their heterogenic and complex nature. As a result, MUS seem to resist medical scrutiny in a way that other conditions do not. This paper approaches the problem of MUS from a philosophical point of view. The aim is to first consider the epistemological problem of MUS in a wider ontological and phenomenological context, particularly in relation to causation. Second, the paper links current medical practice to certain ontological assumptions. Finally, the outlines of an alternative ontology of causation are offered which place characteristic features of MUS, such as genuine complexity, context-sensitivity, holism and medical uniqueness at the centre of any causal set-up, and not only for MUS. This alternative ontology provides a framework in which to better understand complex medical conditions in relation to both their nature and their associated research activity.

Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Eriksen, Thor
Lie, Svein Anders
Anjum, Rani
Keywords: medically unexplained symptoms, causation, epistemology, phenomenology, ontology, philosophy, dispositions
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Medicine
Depositing User: Dr. Rani Lill Anjum
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2013 12:47
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2013 12:47
Item ID: 10012
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine
Official URL:
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Medicine
Date: 4 September 2013
Volume: 8
ISSN: 1747-5341

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item