Encounters in Cancer Treatment: Intersubjective Configurations of a Need for Rehabilitation


  • Mette Terp Høybye,

    1. Elective Surgery Centre, Silkeborg Regional Hospital, Denmark
    2. Department of Psychosocial Cancer Research, Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society, Copenhagen, Denmark
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  • Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen

    1. National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
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Based on extensive ethnographic material from in-depth interviews with Danish cancer patients after treatment, this study analyzes their stories to explore how interactions with the physician configures and situates a need for rehabilitation. We identify three themes in the illness stories: (1) attentiveness and care; (2) fragmentation and objectification; and (3) mistrust and dehumanization. These are all closely tied to the concept of recognition, showing how the themes are configured by the social interaction between the patient and the physician and how the need for rehabilitation is shaped by this encounter. The significance of the social encounters in cancer treatment is elucidated through this analysis, and we demonstrate how the need for recognition of the complex effects of cancer on one's life is central to counter experiences of objectification and dehumanization.