Mind the Body: Rethinking Embodiment in Healthcare


Based on the Cartesian legacy of body-mind dualism, contemporary healthcare conceives of the body as a biological or neurological thing. This view causes healthcare professionals to lose sight of the body as it is experienced and to jump to types of explanations that obscure embodied dimensions of health problems. Frequently, psychological explanations are provided for physical problems without a clearly identified somatic cause (“psychologization”) and mental problems tend to be explained in terms of some brain deficiency (“neuro-reductionism”). Criticisms of dualism often lead to monistic materialist views, thus failing to provide a broader perspective on embodiment. This project aims at tackling both dualism and monistic materialism from a phenomenological materialist perspective. To conceptualize the body’s materiality in contemporary healthcare beyond dualism and monistic materialism, the proposed project employs an empirical-philosophical methodology. It will explore the meaning of the body’s materiality against the background of current theoretical discussions on materialism, while also examining practices that target three major health problems: (1) Medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS), (2) Obesity, and (3) Depression. These cases are each in their own way marked by a problematic dualistic legacy, and this calls for alternative views and vocabularies on embodiment. The three cases will be studied in three PhD-subprojects that involve qualitative fieldwork (interviews, observations). This fieldwork combines phenomenology (unraveling experiences) and ethnography (analyzing broader context) to map relevant views of patients and professionals and to uncover how embodiment is framed in patient-professional interactions. In addition, two post-doc researchers develop philosophical analyses of “psychologization” and “neuro-reductionism” regarding the three cases. Finally, the overall project’s synthesis, to be performed by the applicant, relies on these same case-studies to offer a philosophical analysis of materialism. The project will thus produce an empirically sound theory of embodiment, to be implemented in healthcare practices in collaboration with healthcare professionals.


Hoofdstuk in boek

  • K. Aho, J. Slatman(2018): Existential Medicine pp. 101 - 114
  • S. van Driel, W. Kusters, D. Boertien(2018): Filosofie bij herstelondersteuning pp. 115 - 125 , Utrecht

Wetenschappelijk artikel

  • I.P. Groenevelt(2018): Van de staat tot het lichaam. Tijdschrift Gezondheidszorg en Ethiek pp. 121 - 122
  • M.A.M.M. Meijsing(2018): De persoon met dementie Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte pp. 249 - 271
  • J. Slatman(2018): Hoe belichaamd is het corps propre Filosofie - Tijdschrift pp. 10 - 15
  • J. Slatman(2018): De geest voorbij: Geesteswetenschappelijke reflecties op gezondheidszorg. Waardenwerk pp. 84 - 98

Publicatie bedoeld voor een breed publiek


  • J Slatman(2017): De Geest voorbij





Prof. dr. J. Slatman

Verbonden aan

Maastricht University, Maastricht UMC+


L.M. van den Bosch, E.I. Doeschot, S van Driel MA, S van Driel MA, A. van Essenveld, I.P. Groenevelt MSc, I.P. Groenevelt MSc, I.A.C. de Groot, Dr. S.E. da Haan, Dr. A.V. Kleinherenbrink, Dr. A.V. Kleinherenbrink, Prof. dr. J. Slatman, S.E. de haan


01/09/2017 tot 31/08/2022