Discourses of the body in euthanasia: Symptomatic, dependent, shameful and temporal

Annette F. Street, David W. Kissane

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10 Citations (Scopus)


This theoretical paper is derived from a discourse analysis of the textual material from a study of the seven deaths associated with legalised euthanasia in the Northern Territory, Australia. The textual analysis utilises evidence from interviews, letters written by people seeking euthanasia, medical reports, coroner's records and media reports concerning the social experiment of legalised euthanasia in Australia. The paper does not discuss the euthanasia debate. It argues that the body is a neglected concern in the debates and offers a construction of the discourses of the body as symptomatic, dependent, shameful and temporal. Medical discourses frame the body as symptomatic but these people were also concerned with the loss of autonomy associated with dependence, with shame connected with loss of bodily functions and the embodied experience of determining a 'time to die'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-172
Number of pages11
JournalNursing Inquiry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2001


  • Abjection
  • Discourse analysis
  • Dying
  • Shame
  • Temporal
  • The body

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