Clinical gaze in Therapy

        When the doctor views the patient as a disease, not as a person.


According to Shapiro, the clinical gaze strips people of their wholeness and leaves them feeling as if who they are is defined by their illness (Shapiro).

Michel Foucault stated, “disorders became localized to a distinct point within the body, dismembered and separated from the rest” (Pryce).
The clinical gaze makes the patient feel as if they are no longer a person but just a diagnosis.
      The clinical gaze developed from improvements in science and the birth of modern medicine. With the modernization of medicine came the development of extremely detailed tests.
Today, doctors often rely more on test results, shown in Figures 1 and 2, than on the narrative of the patient.


Medical anthropologist Tess Han writes:

“This ‘medical gaze’ is a taught, learned, and institutionalized way of looking and making sense of the body by doctors around the world. It doesn’t take into consideration the patient’s sociological context because doctors are reframing patients as merely another file or case to look at.”


Foucault (as cited in Shapiro, 2002) identified the professional’s “clinical gaze” as characteristically detached and objectifying, gathering specialized information about people beyond what the people themselves can provide. By implication, “whatever the gaze cannot detect falls outside the realm of important knowledge” (Shapiro, 2002, p. 163). 



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