Expedient Classification: Diagnosis in Lived Experience and Medical Practice
(Conferences / Seminars / Lectures)
Join us for this free webinar from Megh Marathe, PhD, presented as part of the 2022-2023 Bioethics Public Seminar Series. Register: https://bit.ly/bioethics-marathe. more information...
This talk examines how doctors and patients distinguish between normal and pathological events through the case of epilepsy. Epilepsy is a chronic illness and disability characterized by recurrent and unpredictable seizures. Seizures are transient events during which people lose control over parts of body-mind function. The talk shows that the diagnostic boundary between seizure and non-seizure events is fluid, dynamic, and porous in lived experience and medical practice. Calling an event a seizure has consequences well beyond treatment, also affecting a patient's financial stability, social participation, and life aspirations. Hence, doctors and patients take an expedient approach to classifying seizures, informally modifying the very definition of seizure to postpone or avoid severe consequences. Doing so enables doctors and patients to bend rigid classification schemes to suit the complex realities of people's lives. This work advances scholarship on classification and expertise in information studies, science and technology studies, and disability studies.