Explore the humanities in illness and medicine

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 30 October 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4494
  1. Geoff Watts
  1. 1London

    With a nascent research programme ranging from an analysis of 15 000 sets of psychiatric case notes to a philosophical enquiry into the very concept of health, the newly inaugurated Centre for the Humanities and Health is aiming to tackle its subject material on a broad front. A virtual organisation based at King’s College London and established with a grant of £2m (€2.2m; $3.3m) from the Wellcome Trust, it will study illness not as biomedical phenomenon but as a subjective experience to be scrutinised by scholars from King’s and elsewhere, with backgrounds in history, literature, psychology, philosophy, and the visual and other arts as well as nursing and medicine.

    The director of the centre is Brian Hurwitz, D’Oyly Carte professor of medicine and the arts at King’s, and an inner London GP. His own interest in the topic goes back to the time when he was still in training. He became intrigued by the complexity of communication between doctors and patients and their often differing frames of reference. This led to an interest in narratives in medicine then to its links with the arts and now to much wider connections with all the humanities.

    One of the centre’s intentions is to set up a masters course. Enrolment will not begin until next year, so at this stage Professor …

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