Intended for healthcare professionals


Exploring the medical humanities

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 06 November 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1216

A new journal will explore a new conception of medicine

  1. Martyn Evans, senior lecturer,
  2. David Greaves, senior lecturer editors, Medical Humanities
  1. Centre for Philosophy and Health Care, School of Health Science, University of Wales Swansea, Swansea SA2 8PP

    When we read alone and for pleasure, our defences are down—and we hide nothing from the great characters of fiction. In our consulting rooms, and on the ward, we so often do our best to hide everything, beneath the white coat, or the avuncular bedside manner. So often, a professional detachment is all that is left after all those years inured to the foibles, fallacies and frictions of our patients' tragic lives. It is at the point where art and medicine collide, that doctors can re-attach themselves to the human race and re-feel those emotions which motivate or terrify our patients…. Every contact with patients has an ethical and artistic dimension, as well as a technical one.1

    This vivid urging that doctors embrace the “point where art and medicine collide” proclaims both the now familiar ethical dimension of the clinical encounter and also a more recently acknowledged creative or “artistic” one. This recognition is welcome as far as it goes, but focusing on the resensitising of medical practitioners risks overlooking the possibility that …

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