, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 17-23

Gadamerian dialogue in the patient-professional interaction

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Abstract

In his seminal work, Truth and Method, theGerman philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer distinguishesbetween three types of what he calls the experience ofthe `Thou'. In this paper, Gadamer's analysis of thisexperience is explained in terms of his philosophicalhermeneutics and brought to bear upon thepatient-professional relationship. It is argued thatwhile Gadamer's analysis implies fruitful insights fora dialogical account of the patient-professionalinteraction, it harbours elements which are conduciveto paternalistic practice of medicine. The strongattribution of value to tradition and the respect forauthority emphasized in his theory result in a lack ofsensitivity for individual self-determination which isneeded for a successful account of thepatient-professional relationship.