This paper examines the value of drawing on ideas from poststructuralism and postmodernism in an attempt to understand the relationship between health, culture and society Medical and professional discourses have come under increasing criticism for being uncaring, stigmatizing and disempowering This paper supports a postmodernist approach which allows analysis of the fabrication of ‘health‘, ‘illness’ and ‘patient’ subjectivity and the effect of the inscription on the body It is suggested that health care professionals need to be more reflexive about their own knowledge claims and to resist the discursive practices which disempower and reduce choice