Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Dysmorphology and the spectacle of the clinic

Featherstone, Katie ORCID:, Latimer, Joanna Elizabeth, Atkinson, Paul Anthony ORCID:, Pilz, Daniela T. and Clarke, Angus John ORCID: 2005. Dysmorphology and the spectacle of the clinic. Sociology of Health & Illness 27 (5) , pp. 551-574. 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2005.00456.x

[thumbnail of FeatherstoneSpectacle2005.pdf]
PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Download (245kB) | Preview


Dysmorphology is the medical study of abnormal forms in the human and is concerned with the identification and classification of a variety of congenital malformations. Such diagnostic work rests on the inspection of images of affected individuals. Based on physical appearance individuals are classified in terms of a wide range of conditions, often with 'exotic' nomenclatures. This paper will describe the features of clinical dysmorphology and the process of classification. It derives from an ethnographic study of clinical consultations and meetings among medical geneticists in UK hospitals. We suggest that contemporary dysmorphology can be understood in terms of long-standing forms of medical knowledge, medical representations and medical discourse. Notwithstanding the new forms of technology provided by genetic science, 'the clinic' still asserts its symbolic and functional power: the 'gaze' of the clinician and the clinician's warrant of personal knowledge exert their influence. The adjudication of dysmorphology is a contemporary exemplar of the spectacular.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Healthcare Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords: Genetics ; Visual culture ; Health technologies
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0141-9889
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2023 21:45

Citation Data

Cited 47 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics