Persons, places, and times: The meanings of repetition in an STD clinic

Lori Leonard, Jessica L. Greene, Emily Erbelding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In this article we work the tensions between the way clinical medicine and public health necessarily construct the problem of "repetition" in the context of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic and the ways patients narrate their illness experiences. This tension - between clinical and epidemiological exigencies and the messiness of lived experience - is a recurring theme of work conducted at the intersections of epidemiology, anthropology, and clinical medicine. Clinically, repeated infections are a threat to the individual body and to "normal" biological processes like reproduction. From a public health perspective, "repeaters" are imagined to be part of a "core group" that keeps infections in circulation, endangering the social body. Yet patients' accounts are anchored in particular social histories, and their experiences rely on different time scales than those implicated in either of these types of readings. Extended analyses are provided of two such accounts: one in which repetition can be "read" as part of a performance of recovery, and one in which repetition is bound up in the effort to avoid becoming the involuntary subject of institutionally administered intervention. We argue the need to open up the category of repeaters to include the social and draw on work by Cheryl Mattingly to suggest that one way to do this in the context of the STD clinic might be to adopt forms of therapeutic practice that make use of interpretive, in addition to technical, skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-168
Number of pages15
JournalMedical Anthropology Quarterly
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2007

Fingerprint

Clinical Medicine
sexually transmitted disease
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Public Health
Biological Phenomena
Anthropology
human being
public health
Infection
medicine
Reproduction
Reading
experience
Epidemiology
social history
epidemiology
anthropology
illness
threat
performance

Keywords

  • Performance
  • Repetition
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • STD clinic
  • Therapeutic practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Persons, places, and times : The meanings of repetition in an STD clinic. / Leonard, Lori; Greene, Jessica L.; Erbelding, Emily.

In: Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 2, 06.2007, p. 154-168.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Leonard, Lori ; Greene, Jessica L. ; Erbelding, Emily. / Persons, places, and times : The meanings of repetition in an STD clinic. In: Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 2007 ; Vol. 21, No. 2. pp. 154-168.
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