“For the practitioner, the patient’s complaints (symptoms of illness) must be translated into the signs of disease. (For example, the patient’s chest pain becomes angina — a sign of coronary artery disease — for the physician.) Diagnosis is a thoroughly semiotic activity: an analysis of one symbol system followed by its translation into another. Complaints are also interpreted as syndromes — clusters of symptoms which run together over time — that indicate through their relationship a discrete disorder. Clinicians sleuth for pathognomonic signs — the observable, telltale clues to secret pathology — that establish a specific disease. This interpretive bias to clinical diagnosis means that the patient-physician interaction is organized as an interrogation (Mishler 1985).” (16)

The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing, & the Human Condition by Arthur Kleinman, M.D.