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Professor Havi Carel


I am Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol, where I also teach medical students. My research examines the experience of illness and of receiving healthcare. I curerntly hold a Senior Investigator Award from the Wellcome Trust, for a five year project entitled ‘Life of Breath’ (with Prof Jane Macnaughton, Durham University).  ( 

My recent monograph Phenomenology of Illness was published by Oxford University Press in autumn 2016. I previously published on the embodied experience of illness, wellbeing within illness and patient-clinician communication in the Lancet, BMJ, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, Medicine, Healthcare and Philosophy, and in edited collections. 

I am the author of Illness (2008, 2013), shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize, and of Life and Death in Freud and Heidegger (2006). I am the co-editor of Health, Illness and Disease (2012) (edited with Rachel Cooper) and of What Philosophy Is (2004) (edited with David Gamez). 

I also use film in teaching and have co-edited a volume entitled New Takes in Film-Philosophy (2010) (with Greg Tuck). I also co-edited a special issue of Philosophy on ‘Human Experience and Nature’ (2013) (with Darian Meacham). Most recently I edited a special issue of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics (2016).

In 2009-11 I led an AHRC-funded project on the concepts of health, illness and disease.In 2011-12 I was awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship for a project entitled ‘The Lived Experience of Illness’. In 2012-13 I held a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. 

My current research explores the phenomenology of illness. I believe that as embodied persons we experience illness primarily as a disruption of lived body rather than as a dysfunction of biological body. But medicine has traditionally focused on returning the biological body to normal functioning, and has therefore worked from within a problem-focused, deficit perspective that overlooks the lived body. A phenomenological approach can provide a framework for incorporating the experience of illness into medical account and practice, by providing a rich description of the altered relationship of the ill person to her world. 

I am also interested in applying phenomenology to healthcare issues, such as understanding the experience of illness, enhancing communication between healthcare practitioners and patients and identifying focused interventions. 

I spend much of my time discussing these issues with medical and nursing staff and students and welcome every opportunity to engage with them. As well as teaching at the Philosophy Department I also teach at the Bristol Medical School and on the intercalated BA in Medical Humanities at Bristol.



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