'It just doesn't seem to fit'. Environmental illness, corporeal chaos and the body as a complex system.
Environmental illness (EI) still remains something of an enigma, despite attempts to squeeze it into the increasingly flexible framework of the biomedical model or label it as 'psychogenic'. Consistently, environmentally ill bodies fail to respond to conventional medical tests, with the emergence of ambiguous, indecipherable or negative results. During a series of in-depth interviews in Canada, both patients and environmental health practitioners advocated the need for an alternative paradigm from which to view EI. They also spoke of the complex nature of the illness, a conundrum that is currently being explored at the Nova Scotia Environmental Health Centre through an alternative epistemological framework: complexity theory. In this paper, I present a tentative proposal, based on the juxtaposition of theoretical insights from this new science to discourses emanating from patients and doctors. Specifically, I argue that the diverse symptoms of EI can be comprehended through a study of complexity theory, a conception that has positive implications for treatment.
PMID: 19674234 [PubMed - in process]