Politics, Ideology, and the Discourse of Disease

Patrizia Piredda


Concepts and notions formed in the fields of medicine have always been used in politics and ethics as metaphors to define good societal models, manipulate public opinion, consolidate prejudices, and gain power. The connection between political power, rhetoric and medicine is therefore ancient and profound. The concept of disease has been often used to attack domestic and foreign enemies, to criticise society as a sick “body”, and to legitimise political action (often repressive and violent) as a necessary “surgical” measure to remove the cause of the social illness. War has even been called the “hygiene” to clean the world, while otherness has been labelled in derogatory and judgmental ways aimed at legitimising their subjugation, correction, or even elimination. On the other hand, a broad debate on public health is key to the construction of good societies as far as health is recognised as a universal right. Although prevention, public education, and the ethical conception of medical treatment as a complex physic-psycho-cultural issue are acknowledged as pillars of a modern idea of health, these approaches are often far from being practised. The relationship between politics, ideology, and disease becomes then blurred and more profound insight into such a relation is a desideratum.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.6667/interface.19.2022.188


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