Dariuš Zifonun, Svenja Reinhardt & Sebastian Weste: Rescaling the Patient. The Diagnosis of Sleep-Related Problems in the Sleep Laboratory. [Abstract]

The sleep laboratory has become the key site for the study and clinical diagnosis of sleep disorders, with polysomnography (PSG) being the analytical procedure of choice. In this article we argue that, first, during the overall process of being diagnosed at the sleep laboratory, a constant “doing patient” takes place. Second, we show how a constant “re-scaling” of the patient is performed. The patient shifts on a scale between personhood and a physical body, but without ever fully achieving either of these states. The art of successfully performing and creating the patient role collaboratively is precisely one of carefully navigating between these poles and rescaling the patient. With this in mind, we claim that the “body” and the “person” are not just constitutive and predefined entities, but processual units of construction through ongoing interactions. The rescaling of the patient is bound temporally to the (mini-)phases of the overall process of being diagnosed at the sleep laboratory and spatially to various settings within it. This rescaling also differs socially regarding interaction with the complementary roles of the hospital personnel. Even in situations that appear to reduce patients to bodily objects, there are strategies used that maintain the ascription of personhood, shield them against the impact of the loss of being a person, and facilitate the re-transformation of bodies into persons.

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