The soul in the entrails
The experience of the sick in the eighteenth century
in Bellies, bowels and entrails in the eighteenth century
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Throughout eighteenth-century Europe, epistolary consultations constitute an important archive in which to explore the experience of any illness in the Enlightenment. This chapter provides an analysis of the patients' discourse, in order to show the diversity of the expressions they marshal as they draw attention to the link between their entrails and their soul. The patients peer into the deepest recesses of their bodies to catch sight of their impressions and sensations, and describe them in their own words with determined accuracy. The aerial element, in conjunction with the circulation of the humours and the pathways of the nerves, contributes to the formation of sensations. The aerial, or more precisely the hydropneumatic element, is not limited to the abdomen. The experience of the sick, then, is set against a medico-scientific landscape, which emphasises the connection between the abdomen and the operations of the mind.


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