Theory & Psychology 31 (4):632-645 (2021)

Molly Kelly
Emory University
Building from the works of Jacques Derrida, this article explores health anxiety’s aporetic relationship with medicine through a deconstructive approach. I argue that attention to Derrida’s writings (and in particular, his readings of pharmakon and autoimmunity) may prove useful in explaining the cyclical character of health anxiety and its ambivalent response to medical reassurance. What’s more, I demonstrate how structuralist interpretations of health anxiety as a signifier without referent prove insufficient within a Derridean account. Such a reading emphasizes the need for interdisciplinary medical humanities as well as critical reflections on the possible limitations of Western medical semiotics.
Keywords autoimmunity  Derrida  health anxiety  illness anxiety disorder  pharmakon
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