Uncompleted Body and Representation of Etiology: The Cultural Context of Women with Breast Cancer in Taiwan


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between of uncompleted bodies and self-explanations of the etiologies in cultural context through narrative stories of women with breast cancer. In Taiwan, above 90% breast cancer women have suffered from surgeries combining with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and their decision makings are very different from most of the western women. Moreover, the bodily experiences and the perceptions of having lost their breasts after surgeries are influenced by cultural factors. The authors consider “the body” as an actively subject filled with social-cultural meanings, which can perceive and interpret its own life world. All the symptoms of informants are the symbolic expressions of the overall social suffering. Body theories were taken for data analysis and representations in this study, and the authors found informants represented their etiologies as containing four important cultural factors: 1.cancer as the unchangeable fate, that no one can escape from the invisible power, resigning to fate ,facing the world with a smile, and not making herself miserable; 2.cancer as karmic creditors and repayments the debt of preexistence; 3.cancer as the result of yin-yang disharmony, representing the cosmology of balance and harmony in sexual relationship; and 4.cancer as the result of accumulation bodily heat, nourishing yin-qi can remove extinguishing inner fire.These cultural factors are not only the consequences of long term interactions between individuals, families, and society, but also as reconstruction of their cosmology through interpretations of etiology for finding the best ways to copy with their illness in the Taiwan society.

Author Information
Shu-Chung Lii, School of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taiwan
Shih-Li Wang, Jen-Teh Junior College of Medicine, Nursing & Management, Taiwan
Hui-Wen Chien, Asia University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2017
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon