Life of Breath: breathing in cultural, clinical and lived experience


  • Prof Havi Carel

    University of Bristol, United Kingdom

  • Prof Jane Macnaughton

    Durham University

Project summary

Professor Carel and Professor Macnaughton's 'Life of Breath' is motivated by the view that breathlessness and breathing can only be understood fully by drawing on both biomedical information and on cultural, literary, historical and phenomenological research. Breathing is a basic physiological process, but also has deep cultural, spiritual and personal meaning. It is unique being under automatic control but having some conscious override and plays a central role in cultural and spiritual practices like meditation. The pathological derivative of breathing, breathlessness, is a major symptom in both respiratory and cardiac disease, and in anxiety disorders. Whilst its physiology is well recognised, the subjective experiences of breathing and breathlessness are understudied and poorly understood, which Professor Carel and Professor Macnaughton are hoping to change.