Getting a sense of listening: an anthropological perspective on auscultation

Br J Cardiol 2006;13:56-7 Leave a comment
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In his contribution to The auditory culture reader, Murray Schafer introduces the notion of clairaudience. Clairaudience refers, most fundamentally, to an ability to hear and, more specifically, to a capacity to hear ‘through’ or ‘beyond’ the sensory horizons which normally present themselves. This is a very suitable concept through which to consider the ear of an experienced auscultator. Not only is he or she able to hear through the layers of tissue which constitute the body and which usually contain sound, rendering it inaudible, but the auscultator is also able to infer what certain sounds might mean and what significance they might hold for a patient’s well-being in the present and future. The auscultator is able to deduce the relevance of sounds which are ‘unheard’ to the patients, and which remain incomprehensible to those not trained in medicine. An experienced auscultator holds a very particular sensory power.








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