Semiology: definition and role of medical semiology

Semiology: definition and role of medical semiology

What is semiological analysis? Why is it a science?

Semiology is the study of signs, the fields of application of which are numerous and varied (semiology in communication, linguistics, graphic semiology, etc.). Discover medical semiology, what it means and its role, as an integral part of medicine.

Definition of medical semiology: the study of clinical signs

The semiology means the study of clinical signs and originally, this term would have been invented by Hippocrates. “Semiology is taught during medical school studiesinforms us Doctor Sophie Bauer, liberal thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon, President of the union of liberal doctors (SML). We study all the signs of different diseases, whether clinical or physical signs. Each professional in the medical or paramedical profession has their own level of semiology, such as midwives where the physiotherapists. However, it is doctors who receive the most comprehensive training, especially in the second year of medicine..”

How to define semiology in communication (image, linguistic, graphic, etc.)

In the linguistic field, the semiology is here science which studies sign systems, at the level of language, images and even colors. In the medical field, it is symptomatology, which analyzes the symptoms of illness. The semiology of communication concerns both the verbal rather than non-verbal languagel, just like in medicine. “Semiology also includes what we see, it is clinical observation. The way the patient waits in the waiting room, the way he enters the office and the way he expresses himself explains a lot of things. We look at their behavior, their way of speaking, if it is jerky, if the patient is breathing quickly, etc. We also know how to identify the approach of a person suffering from Parkinson disease For example. All these elements enter into the study of clinical signs,” reveals Dr. Bauer.

Other disciplines are concerned, such as the semiotics of cinema, music, social life (the founding father of which is Ferdinand de Saussure) or even graphic semiology, which can be the study of maps for example (cartography) or the highway code. The term has been expanded or taken up by some people, such as Roland Barthes or Charles Sanders Peirce, to provide explanations for the different theories put forward.

What do you call the science of signs: semiology or semiotics?

The science of signs can be named differently: semiology, semeiology or semiotic. It is used in fields as wide as they are varied, such as general psychology, advertising or politics. “However, the most spectacular application of semiotics is probably in medicine. All doctors learn the most complete and detailed semiology possible“, our doctor informs us.

What is the purpose of semiology?

The semiology or the study of clinical signs is the essential step in the medical consultation. “It is probably one of the oldest practices of medicine, one of the oldest achievements of doctorsreveals Dr Sophie Bauer. Through the signs we give meaning and we begin a diagnosis before even prescribing any additional examination. We have several ways to study the symptoms and systems, such as auscultation, palpation, percussion, listening or even the search for certain reflexes or traumas. All these tools are of the order of the clinical examination, during which we look for the symptoms of diseasesshe adds. These can be signs of all systems, vascular, cardiac, neurological, etc. Thanks to the clinical examination, we approach the diagnosis and we eliminate many others.”

When to consult a semiologist?

Semiological analysis is not a specialty in itself. Each discipline presents a form of semiology. If you consult your doctor, he systematically has knowledge of semiology. “Furthermore, when we observe a patient, verbal communication represents 10% of communication, while the rest, or 90%, is non-verbal communication. For example, facial tension reveals a painful feeling.“.

Also, Doctor Bauer recalls that a medical exam is essential before any prescription renewal: “We need to check needs, interactions, the appearance of possible side effects or new symptoms, etc. Many points must be checked.”

Note also that those who call themselves semiologists are essentially those who have studied language, the semiology of communication and verbal and non-verbal linguistics. The main field of application of the study of signs remains the field of health and medicine.