The ecstasy of sanctimony

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 02 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:i

“The ecstasy of sanctimony,” says Philip Roth, is “America's oldest communal passion [and] historically perhaps its most treacherous and subversive pleasure.” The Brits too can be overwhelmed by sanctimony, which Chambers defines as “affected or simulated holiness.” This week's BMJ has accounts of outbreaks of sanctimony on both sides of the North Atlantic.

Britain has been engulfed by a media debate on how the NHS handled a 94 year old woman with a head wound (p 306). What exactly happened is never likely to be clear, but her family says that it found her after three days still in casualty, in the …

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