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October 2021

Sense, symbol, and soma: Illness experience in the soundscape of everyday life

Journal/Book: Cult Med Psychiat. 1999; 23: Spuiboulevard 50, PO Box 17, 3300 AA Dordrecht, Netherlands. Kluwer Academic Publ. 273-301.

Abstract: This article explores the lived experience of women suffering from an illness prevalent in the Kui communities of Northeast Thailand. The symptoms, ranging from loss of appetite to chronic fatigue, were typically triggered by being exposed to certain kinds of sounds, such as motorcycles, quarrelling neighbors, or carousing drunkards. I examine the illness experience as it was constituted in the soundscape of everyday life to reveal how the meaning-endowed sounds aggravated the feeling of being vulnerable and defenseless. The felt immediacies created by the audio-somatic experience were reconceptualized within the indigenous somato-psychic framework as a form of illness. By examining the life histories and illness experiences of individuals who were rendered vulnerable and defenseless, the study reveals how symbols that carry political significance, the body as a cultural form of memory, and the senses combine to create a specific mode of being-in-the-world. Sense, symbols, and somatic processes combined to create an illness experience out of the felt immediacies of the Kui's socio-political predicament of marginality.

Note: Article Chuengsatiansup K, Minist Publ Hlth, Off Permanent Secretary, Hlth Sociocultural Policy Unit, Nonthaburi 11000, THAILAND

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