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Emotional Images in Medicine

Henrik Enquist

This paper introduces ideas for future research that explore non-diagnostic uses of images in medicine. The dynamics are studied from a subjective and emotional perspective, a standpoint common in art and design but rarely considered relevant in academic medicine and science. The fundamental aim of the project is to study how images can influence and alter the afflicted individuals? experiences of body and health, and contribute to enhanced feelings of well-being, participation and joy in everyday life.

There is a growing public interest in medical images, both in popular science but also in the private and personal spheres, one example being the controversial use of foetal keepsake videos as recreational images. There seems to be an increasing need for people being able to see, and consequently know, more about themselves and their medical situations. Emotionally and individually designed images will probably play an important role in future healthcare, both as an integrated part of regular medicine and as private emancipative artefacts.

A series of design criteria are discussed concerning the format of the images, i.e. original or modified clinical images and individually designed images based on personal demands and needs. Different modes of use are discussed, ranging from informational, educational and communicative to emotional and recreational, with the experiences of well-being and emancipation as common denominators. An outline for future research is presented discussing potential user groups, functional specifications including accessibility and flexibility as well as questions of ethics, economics, intellectual property rights and confidentiality.


Medical images, truth and emotions, experienced health, emotional artefacts