What is in a name? Autonomic imbalance and medically unexplained symptoms in Taiwan

Jia shin Chen*


研究成果: Article同行評審

4 引文 斯高帕斯(Scopus)


Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) are persistent bodily symptoms without known pathology. An unofficial term has recently emerged in Taiwan to accommodate MUS: autonomic imbalance (AI). AI literally refers to disturbances of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) that innervates vital organs. However, AI is variously conceptualised by different parties. This study intends to investigate what is in the name of AI. It draws on available databases and in-depth interviews with AI sufferers and Western and Chinese medicine physicians. Some physicians research ANS functions through heart rate variability measurements. Research findings show that physicians regard AI as a convenient term for clinical communication and a euphemistic substitute for MUS or even psychiatric diagnoses. It is not a ‘real thing’. However, AI sufferers treat AI as a bona fide disease, only that it has not been officially classified. AI is therefore an unfaithful translation, or an uncontrolled equivocation, of MUS. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of treating AI as an equivocation. These implications include the limitations of the current diagnostic criteria, the necessity to rethink the dichotomy of mind and body, and the underlying realities exposed or masked by ‘diagnosis’.

頁(從 - 到)881-894
期刊Sociology of Health and Illness
出版狀態Published - 5月 2021


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