How to Categorise Disease? Endometriosis, Inflammation, and ‘Self Out of Place’

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the uterine lining develops outside the uterus; it 'bleeds' during periods, forms lesions, and causes chronic pain. Despite affecting around 10% of menstruating people, its aetiology is poorly understood, and diagnostics and treatments are highly inadequate. Researchers agree that inflammation is part of the problem, and inflammatory response plays a key role in current efforts to recategorise and reconceptualise the disease. This ‘field notes’ piece describes my fieldwork during the pandemic, largely in-depth interviews with patients and clinicians in and around Edinburgh, Scotland. It interrogates the socio-cultural context in which endometriosis is changing from a ‘gynaecological disorder’ to a ‘systemic disorder’ implicating the endocrine system (a ‘hormonal condition’), neural system (‘neuropathic pain’) and/or immune system (an ‘inflammatory condition’). It explores how the lived experience of endometriosis challenges ingrained ways of thinking about the body and bodily ‘systems,’ which are reflected in the design of healthcare systems. Considering endometriosis alongside changing conceptions of immune response invites thinking beyond self-versus-non-self (as in older concepts of immunity), and self-attacking-self (as in auto-immune conditions), to something like ‘self-out-of-place,’ simultaneously calling into question the suitability of our social and material relations.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalMedicine Anthropology Theory
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Endometriosis
  • Categorisation
  • Environment-disease connections
  • Gendered disease
  • Chronic disease


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