Virtual Conference
Edina Tomán

Edina Tomán

ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary

Title: The role of the lived body during the incorporation of the sternotomy scar – a case study


In our study, we explored the experiences of women who have undergone cardiac surgery with a sternotomy scar through the interpretation possibilities inherent in the embodiment paradigm. In connection with the creation, healing process, and symbolism of the scar, the body, the physical experience, has a privileged role. A sternotomy scar is a painful reminder of the events surrounding the traumatic experience of open heart surgery and the long recovery process following the surgery. The aim of our research was to reveal what meaning this intervention and the scar caused by it have for those involved, and how it becomes part of the identity through giving meaning to the traumatic experience, using interpretative phenomenological analysis. This case study involved one 42 years old female participant after two open heart surgeries. Two main themes emerged: 1. Estrangement from the body as a result of the traumatic experience (3 sub-themes: 1/I. body experience formed in relation to the other; 1/II. the experience of the wounded body; 1/III. losing and then regaining control over the body). 2. Acceptance and reintegration of the traumatized body (4 sub-themes: 2/I. letting go of control over the body; 2/II. bodily presence: sensory connection with the lived body; 2/III. the role of body memory in reliving the traumatic experience; 2/IV. corporeal posttraumatic growth). As a conclusion, the body that has undergone open heart surgery is a means of expression that able to communicate his struggles and pains to the world. In connection with interventions that leave a mark on the body, psychological theory and clinical practice primarily deals with the body image instead of the lived body, however, for healing, it is important to understand the sensations of the body, both for the patient and the therapist. Our research dissects a gap-filling topic


Edina Tomán is a psychologist. She is a PhD candidate and lecturer at Institute of Psychology, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary. She specializes in exploring traumatic experiences of physical illness and the psychological aspects of chronic diseases in a phenomenological-qualitative approach. As a member of the Qualitative Research Group at ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, in addition to her doctoral research she also regularly participates in the work of the research group.