Don't cry for us Argentinians: two decades of teaching medical humanities.
Medical humanities--history, literature, anthropology, ethics and fine arts applied to medicine--play an important role in medical education. For more than 20 years an effort has been made to obtain an academic identity for such a multidisciplinary approach. A distinction between humanitarianism and humanism is attempted here, the former being associated with medical care and the latter with medical education. In order more precisely to define the relationship between the arts and medicine, an alternative term "medical kalology", as-yet-unsanctioned, coined after the rules of medical terminology, is proposed. The Department of Medical Humanities in the School of Medicine, National University La Plata, submits the following apologia: Don't cry for us Argentinians, since the teaching of medical humanities has helped our doctors to function more truly humanistically during the past two decades, as we intend to continue with this calling in the future. (+info
Humanities and medicine (a slightly dissident view).
Programs for humanities and medicine are growing in a number of medical schools in the U.S.A. Proponents of the programs, which are intended to bring together humanists, scientists, physicians, and others, believe that broadening the background of physicians will put a more human face on the practice of medicine, despite its increasingly technological nature. There is little to support this premise, and its successes and failures are not measurable. There are reasons to support the programs, however, but they have more to do with what physicians like and want to do than with what is therapeutic for them. (+info
The emperor's new shibboleth.
If an idea or result can't be conveyed in plain language, how important can it really be? (+info
'He found me very well; for me, I was still feeling sick': the strange worlds of physicians and patients in the 18th and 21st centuries.
It is commonplace today to deplore the dissatisfaction of patients with the physician-patient relationship. Furthermore, historical investigation shows that this problem is not really new. We investigated an important source of patients' views in the 18th century, namely the letters of patients received by the famous Swiss physician, Samuel Tissot, and noted remarkably similar feelings of frustration. Yet the medical paradigms of today and of Tissot's times are considerably different. We propose that the persisting problems in the physician-patient relationship are due to a basic dissonance between the patient's ordinary modes of perception and the systematic way of perceiving reality characteristic of the physician. In addition, they reflect the unavoidable chasm between the ultimately private and singular nature of the illness experience, and the general and anonymous stance of medical theory. This chasm is therefore a permanent feature of the patient-physician relationship, predating the advent of scientific medicine, even if the latter reinforced it. In line with the current medical humanities movement, we believe that the engagement of physicians and medical students with literature and the arts helps them explore, and to some extent overcome, the existential divide between the patient's experiential self knowledge and the systematic, impersonal knowledge that plays a central role in medicine. We suggest a few examples of contemporary fiction that may be relevant and useful in this respect. (+info
Medicine and the humanities--theoretical and methodological issues.
Engel's biopsychosocial model, Cassell's promotion of the concept "person" in medical thinking and Pellegrino's and Thomasma's philosophy of medicine are attempts to widen current biomedical theory of disease and to approach medicine as a form of human activity in pursuit of healing. To develop this approach further we would like to propose activity theory as a possible means for understanding the nature of medical practice. By "activity theory" we refer to developments which have evolved from Vygotsky's research on socially mediated mental functions and processes. Analysing medicine as activity enforces the joint consideration of target and subject: who is doing what to whom. This requires the use of historical, linguistic, anthropological, and semiotic tools. Therefore, if we analyse medicine as an activity, humanities are both theoretically and methodologically "inbound" (or internal) to the analysis itself. On the other hand, literature studies or anthropological writings provide material for analysing the various forms of medical practices. (+info
Medical humanities at the University of Wales Swansea.
The UK's first taught master's degree in medical humanities involves a field of inquiry that is frequently philosophical, pursuing interests and questions traditionally arising in medical philosophy and ethics, but on a larger interdisciplinary canvas, drawing upon literature and the visual arts, sociology and anthropology, social history and politics, and theological and religious perspectives. (+info
Constructions of self: ethical overtones in surprising locations.
Little discussion has occurred in the health profession literature with respect to how the "self" is constructed, despite the imagination and attention it has garnered from philosophers and theorists in various other disciplines. Yet this subject has surprisingly ethical overtones for health professional education and practice. In this paper notions of the self are briefly considered and it is suggested that a narrative and dialogic view of self can contribute to insights about ethical practice in the health professions. Subtle issues with respect to how relationship and language may be used to wield power are revealed and discussed; and awareness about how such power is used in practice is highlighted as a crucial issue. The assumptions practitioners make with respect to constructions of self are ethically important and this topic warrants consideration in the medical humanities. (+info
Humanities for medical students? A qualitative study of a medical humanities curriculum in a medical school program.
BACKGROUND: Today, there is a trend towards establishing the medical humanities as a component of medical education. However, medical humanities programs that exist within the context of a medical school can be problematic. The aim of this study was to explore problems that can arise with the establishment of a medical humanities curriculum in a medical school program. METHODS: Our theoretical approach in this study is informed by derridean deconstruction and by post-structuralist analysis. We examined the ideology of the Humanities and Medicine program at Lund University, Sweden, the practical implementation of the program, and how ideology and practice corresponded. Examination of the ideology driving the humanities and medicine program was based on a critical reading of all available written material concerning the Humanities and Medicine project. The practice of the program was examined by means of a participatory observation study of one course, and by in-depth interviews with five students who participated in the course. Data was analysed using a hermeneutic editing approach. RESULTS: The ideological language used to describe the program calls it an interdisciplinary learning environment but at the same time shows that the conditions of the program are established by the medical faculty's agenda. In practice, the "humanities" are constructed, defined and used within a medical frame of reference. Medical students have interesting discussions, acquire concepts and enjoy the program. But they come away lacking theoretical structure to understand what they have learned. There is no place for humanities students in the program. CONCLUSION: A challenge facing cross-disciplinary programs is creating an environment where the disciplines have equal standing and contribution. (+info