chapter  Chapter 5
24 Pages

In Dialogue with Doctors: Aspects of a Medical “Creole”

WithRobert M. Ariss†, Gary W. Dowsett

Narratives that explore patient encounters with physicians, clinical scientists, and the apparatus of experimental science reveal an emerging linguistic form which is enabling people with HIV and AIDS to speak about a new predicament in ways that are meaningful, both personally and collectively. This “creole” seeks to render scientific information intelligible at a phenomenological level. Medical anthropologists have observed this process—the teleological reconstruction in the narratives of patients—in a number of settings. From the moment of receiving a diagnosis of HIV infection or AIDS, the individual enters into a discursive relationship with medical science. The HIV-antibody test is couched in a discourse that signifies particular meanings about life and death. The removal of a phenomenological perspective functioned to align the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations project more closely to the discourse of medical science than earlier, more critical efforts. Thus, through the process of information systematization, an emerging critical patient discourse became quickly neutralized through its transformation into a medical “creole.”.