• Reconfiguring the consultation: Rituals and storytelling in General Practice

Playford, Vanda, 2004, Thesis, Reconfiguring the consultation: Rituals and storytelling in General Practice PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This theory and art practice thesis investigates the activities of patients and doctors in a general practice health clinic from my perspective as both an artist and a doctor.

Theories of ritual and performance are used to analyse the behaviour of the patient in the clinic waiting room and to consider the roles of the doctor and the patient in the consulting room. The notion of the symptom is presented through stories told to me oy patients about their illnesses. The symptom is reflected upon by using Freudian and Lacanian theories of psychoanalysis, theories of narrative and ideas based on personal experience as a general practitioner. The interaction between doctor and patient is analysed with particular emphasis on their speech. Theories of narrative are used to consider stories told in the consultation, the complexity of the interpretations made by the doctor and the inter-subjective nature of the relationship between doctor and patient.

The theoretical considerations brought to an analysis of general practice within the thesis are not generally considered relevant to studies of medicine. They bring new insights into the nature of the clinic, the symptom and the doctor-patient relationship.

The art practice, which is mostly in the form of video, has developed in two directions. The first direction enquires into the effect of using the form of ritual and performance in depictions of technical medical procedures. The artwork shows a variety of procedures, and transforms them by exaggerating the symbolism of their rituals. The effect is to reveal the hidden psychological undercurrents that lie beneath the surface of the performance of the procedures and threaten their success.

The second direction uses documentary video practice to create a three screen video installation in which the viewer is confronted with the dilemma of an artwork presented as a documentary and a documentary presented as an artwork. The installation enquires into the nature of story telling and interpretation in a general practice consultation. The work reveals the importance of an evidentiary epistemological paradigm in understanding the nature of illness. It suggests that not knowing is a form of knowledge in its own right.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Additional Information:

This thesis has been digitised as part of a project to preserve and share the RCA Library's historic thesis collection. If you own copyright to any material in this work and would like it to be removed from the repository then please contact repository@rca.ac.uk.

Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2024 15:33
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2024 15:45
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5730
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