The baby's out, the bathwater's out, and they're not coming back - Rebuilding physiotherapy from ethics, ecology and otherness with Dr Filip Maric


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Welcome to another episode of The Words Matter Podcast.

On this episode I’m speaking I’m speaking Dr Filip Maric.

Filip is a physiotherapist with a background in musculoskeletal physiotherapy, as well as in philosophy, ethnology and psychoanalysis. His doctoral research employed the qualitative methodology of autoethnography to explore the ethical foundations of physiotherapy.

More recently, this work has led him to the in-depth exploration and development of environmental physiotherapy and with that, the relationship between health, physiotherapy, and the question of the environment. And we talk about his work in this area towards the end of the episode.

He is the founder and executive chair of the Environmental Physiotherapy Association and teaches and researches at UiT The Arctic University of Norway located in Tromsø.

So in this episode we speak about:

  • His recent paper he wrote with David Nicholls (who I spoke with on episode 21), titled 'The fundamental violence of physiotherapy: Emmanuel Levinas’ critique of ontology and its implications for physiotherapy theory and practice', published in Open Physio Journal (here).
  • How ontology, epistemology and ethics relate to each other, and how fundamental this relationship is to physiotherapy.
  • His radical critique of physiotherapy as it applies to the philosophical foundations of physiotherapy and the notion of enforcing of professional identities
  • The work of the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, who’s perspective on ethics and ontology Filip utilised in his PhD to radically interrogate the theory, practice and identity of physiotherapy.
  • Levinas's notion of ‘otherness’, meaning the openness for cultural differences and social diversity which has implications for how we relate to and interact with patients in clinical practice.
  • The post professional era of musculoskeletal practice.
  • The broader implications of his reconceptualisation of physiotherapy, and it not bing just about human health but ecosystem and planetary health. And how this incorporation of environmental concerns into the project of physiotherapy is greater than the concerns and differences between individual professions and practitioners, but it is trans professional – and further contributes to a post professional era.

This was a really interesting conversation with Filip; he’s gone places with his thinking and argument where very few have dared to go.

It might at first appear that Filip’s strong critique against the current conceptualisation of physiotherapy is some sort of 'professional vandalism' or trouble making. But if you listen closely you’ll hear Filip’s aim is de-construction, not destruction to better understand where and how physiotherapy is and to begin to offer places where it could possibly go, albeit in a different form.

Find Filip on Twitter @filipmaricpt

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