Impressed by Illness: Against Recovery as the Absence of Illness

Impressed by Illness: Against Recovery as the Absence of Illness

Dr Avril TynanZoom

Challenging the traditional view that sickness opposes health in a definitive binary, this paper explores their entanglements through the concept of “recovery” and argues that experiences of illness continue to affect subjects and their lifeworlds even after a period of acute illness. Drawing on Gadamer’s use of the term “verwinden” [twisted, warped] (27) to describe how experiences of illness and pain cannot be disentangled from our interpretative horizons but remain with us, this paper also engages with Sara Ahmed’s affective theory of “stickiness” and “impressions” to demonstrate how theories of recovery as the “absence” of illness overlook the multitude of traces – some visible and others invisible – that are left behind following illness. Following Gianni Vattimo’s claim that we carry within us the “vestiges” of illness, this paper explores the invisible impressions of illness “from which one cannot be set totally free” (2016, 95). Through a reading of Philippe Forest’s L’enfant éternel (1997), this paper builds a theoretical framework for discussions of recovery in a post-pandemic world.

Ahmed, Sara. 2004. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.
Gadamer, Hans-Georg. 2003. Schmerz: Einschätzungen aus medizinischer, philosophischer und therapeutischer Sicht. Heidelberg, Germany: Winter.
Vattimo, Gianni. 2016. Of Reality. New York: Columbia UP.

University of Turku, Finland
Fri 09:30 - 11:00
Creative Methodologies, Mental Health
Standard paper