Metaphysics and heavy breathing (or Tippett’s Fourth Symphony)

How can art (in this case, music) illuminate human experience? Here project collaborator Toby Young contemplates Tippett’s Symphony No. 4 (1977), a ‘birth to death piece’ which features amplified human breath, most notably at the start and end. Can experiencing the piece help us understand what … Read more…

Should I fear my death?

Where death is, I am no longer, where I am death is not. If life and death are mutually exclusive, then we have no reason to fear death; but could it have a role to play in life? As part of the student-voted Best of Bristol lecture series, Prof Havi Carel explored the question of whether we should fear our own deaths through contrasting the views of Epicurus and Heidegger.

Fully-funded Life of Breath/medical humanities PhD at Durham University – new deadline

Would you like to join the Durham Life of Breath project team? We are inviting medical humanities PhD proposals which address either of the following topics Stigma and/or stereotypes in relation to breathing, breathlessness and/or lung disease Engaging with Life … Read more…

A Tobacco-Free New Zealand by 2025? Lecture (Durham)


To mark No Smoking Day we welcomed public health and behaviour specialist Dr Marewa Glover to Durham University. Dr Glover (Massey University) is an indigenous woman of the Māori Ngā Puhi tribe of New Zealand who works to improve Māori health, mainly through reducing tobacco smoking. Marewa has led or been involved in the study of, design and trial of a number of smoking cessation interventions informed by Māori knowledge, that operate in accordance with Māori values and protocols.

You can read some of the audience reaction to her talk on Twitter #tobaccofreeNZ

Means and ENDS – e-cigarettes, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and global health diplomacy in action

Can e-cigarettes (also called electronic nicotine delivery systems or ENDS) help curb smoking or are they just a smoke screen allowing tobacco companies to keep people addicted to nicotine? And how should global policy makers proceed when uncertainty makes agreement impossible? In … Read more…

Epistemic Injustice and Illness

Both patients and doctors complain of problems communicating with each other. Senior investigator Havi Carel and Ian Kidd consider the possible roots of this. In particular, they explore why patients are vulnerable to ‘epistemic injustice’ where their voice lacks credibility due to presumed lack of knowledge, … Read more…

With bated breath: diagnosis of respiratory illness

In this essay, senior investigator Havi Carel recounts her experience of being diagnosed with a rare respiratory condition as a starting point for considering how waiting for and receiving a medical diagnosis affects people’s lives. After perhaps a prolonged period … Read more…

“If I had to live like you, I think I’d kill myself”: Explaining the Disability Paradox

On 26 November 2015 Havi Carel visited Kings College London to give the Annual Philosophy and Medicine Sowerby Lecture. Her theme was the ‘disability paradox’ – the difference between how ill and disabled people rate their wellbeing and healthy people asked to imagine how happy they would be if they were unwell. Ill and disabled people’s wellbeing rating is only slightly lower than that of healthy people. Havi argues that healthy people may mis-imagine ill-health and that the ability of people to adapt to illness raises important questions for health economics.

You can watch the lecture here

Understanding Disease and Illness (6th International Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable)

The International Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable (IPMR) is an open group of philosophers, clinicians, epidemiologists, social scientists, statisticians, bioethicists, and anyone else with an interest in epistemological and ontological issues connected with medicine. The 2015 conference was hosted by the … Read more…

Invisible suffering: breathlessness in and beyond the clinic

In Life of Breath’s first publication, senior investigators, Havi Carel and Jane Macnaughton, and respiratory clinician James Dodd outline the rationale for the project. We have all experienced breathlessness at some point, whether through illness or exertion. Breathlessness is subjective, a very … Read more…