Giving and Getting: Altruism and Exchange in Transplantation
- Cite this article as:
- Lamanna, M.A. Journal of Medical Humanities (1997) 18: 169. doi:10.1023/A:1025637702288
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In the study of organ and tissue transplantation, the focus tends to be on donation. But where there is “giving,” there is also “getting:” receiving help. Altruism, helping behavior, and the exchange of benefits have received extensive attention from social psychological researchers. The gift exchange described by anthropologist Marcel Mauss provides a framework for reviewing this social psychological research on altruism and exchange and applying it to transplantation. An overall conclusion is that altruistic donation is not so ethically or clinically problematic, while receiving help has a complex psychosocial context that needs to be acknowledged and given more attention.