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Historical situatedness of categories’ meanings in medicine

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Dichotomies in medicine are real, and the boundaries that define them are constantly shifting. Radical antitheses such as healthy versus ill, reconstructive versus aesthetic, or medical dermatology versus cosmetic dermatology can be more clearly understood by considering the cultural context of medicine. This essay examines the latter two antitheses and asks whether medical dermatology should be a category limited to somatic illness. It also examines how the tendency to create and endorse dichotomies distorts the meaning and delivery of surgical procedures as well as reimbursement practices in contemporary medicine.




Gilman, S. L. (2018, December 1). Historical situatedness of categories’ meanings in medicine. AMA Journal of Ethics. American Medical Association.

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