FeelThat Changes Medical Care: patient’s own words no longer needed

The FeelThat network allows people, as player Jemma Jordan Smith expressed concisely, to “communicate without the complications of words.” This assessment that the FeelThat network opens direct channels between people has sparked players’ imaginations around how medical care could be practiced.


Sylvia1233 suggests, “Doctors may use the FeelThat network to see if their patient has depression or some other emotional disorder.”sylvia1233
And June217 anticipates that emergency responders would “be able to feel what unconscious emergency patients are feeling and be able to help the problem more quickly and effectively.” Sabrina Kornblu concurs, envisioning that “we would know if [emergency victims were] in pain.”

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That same affordance, however, the ability to ‘communicate without the complications of words, elicits concern from others. In health care, words have power.  How people choose to describe their health can offer helpful clues to the medical professionals with whom they share the information. By having control over what we share about our health—the words we use—makes us the authority on the story of our health. But, if we confer what we might think of as our narrative authority to those in our FeelThat network, the explanations we offer about how we’re feeling may get trumped by the data streaming from the wearable sensors. By engaging in a network like FeelThat, will we give up control of the interpretation of our emotional health?   You feel well but the “advanced biological and neurological sensors” are interpreting your emotions as unwell. What is your recourse? How do you override the network’s data-driven conclusions?

Sure, you could drop out of the network, but what if you didn’t have a choice in participating? What if your parents only let you hang out on your own or with your friends if you wore your FeelThat hardware? What if health insurance were tied to full participation in the network? There is vulnerability in not being able to present your emotional state in the way you want to. As 9th Grade Team wonders, will we “get made fun of for having a certain emotion or feeling?”

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In other words, although words certainly do complicate communication, they also keep control staunchly in the hands…or the minds….of the person experiencing the emotion.