I am Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol, where I also teach medical students. My research examines the experience of illness and of receiving healthcare. I was recently awarded a Senior Investigator Award by the Wellcome Trust, for a five year project entitled ‘Life of Breath’ (with Prof Jane Macnaughton, Durham University). (www.lifeofbreath.org)
My current research explores the phenomenology of illness. I am interested in augmenting the naturalistic approach to illness with a phenomenological perspective. I believe that as embodied persons we experience illness primarily as a disruption of lived body rather than as a dysfunction of biological body. But medicine has traditionally focused on returning the biological body to normal functioning, and has therefore worked from within a problem-focused, deficit perspective that ignores the lived body. A phenomenological approach can provide a framework for incorporating the experience of illness into the medical naturalistic account, by providing a rich description of the altered relationship of the ill person to her world.
I am also interested in applying phenomenology to healthcare issues, such as understanding the experience of illness, enhancing communication between healthcare practitioners and patients and identifying focused interventions.
I spend much of my time discussing these issues with medical and nursing staff and students and welcome every opportunity to engage with them. As well as teaching at the Philosophy Department I also teach at the Bristol Medical School and on the intercalated BA in Medical Humanities at Bristol.