The doctor and the literary text — potentials and pitfalls Authors
Cite this article as: Ahlzén, R. Med Health Care Philos (2002) 5: 147. doi:10.1023/A:1016027904865 Abstract
Expectations are growing that literature may contribute to clinical skills. Narrative medicine is a quickly expanding area of research. However, many people remain sceptical to the idea of literature having a capacity to “save the life of medicine”. It is therefore urgent to scrutinize both the arguments in favour of and those against the potential of literature for increasing medical understanding. This article attempts to do this. It does in fact support the assertion that literature is important, but it stresses precisely its character of potential. There is no simple connection between acquaintance with literary texts and understanding of the different aspects of medical work. Much more need to be known about the conditions which allow the experiences residing in texts to be transformed into lived personal knowledge.
ambiguity clinical encounter experience literary text perception potential understanding
This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.
Ahlzén, R. and C-M. Stolt: 2001, 'Poetry, Interpretation and Unpredictability: A Reply to Neil Pickering',
27, pp. 47–49.
Booth, W.: 1988,
The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Charon, R.: 2000, 'Reading, Writing and Doctoring: Literature and Medicine',
The American Journal of Medical Sciences
319 (5), pp. 285–291.
Elam, K.: 2001,
Emotions as a Mode of Understanding: An Essay in Philosophical Aesthetics. Uppsala: Uppsala University Press.
Evans, M.: 2001, 'The Medical Body as Philosophy's Arena',
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
22, pp. 17–32.
Gadamer, H-G.: 1989,
Truth and Method. London: Sheed & Ward.
Greenhalg, T. and B. Hurwitz: 1998,
Narrative Based Medicine: Dialogue and Discourse in Clinical Practice. London: BMJ Books.
James, H.: 1907,
The Art of the Novel. New York.
Lagercrantz, O.: 1985,
Om konsten att läsa och skriva. Stockholm: W&W.
Langer, S.: 1942,
Philosophy in a New Key. A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art. Cambridge, Mass.
Midgeley, M.: 2001,
Science and Poetry. London and New York: Routledge.
Nussbaum, M.: 1990,
Love's Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
O'Brian, P.: 1991,
Desolation Island. Norton & Company.
Pickering, N.: 2000, 'The Use of Poetry in Health Care Ethics Education',
26, pp. 31–36.
Scott, A.: 2000, 'The Relationship Between the Arts and Medicine',
25, pp. 3–8.
Svenaeus, F.: 1999,
The Hermeneutics of Medicine and the Phenomenology of Health: Steps Towards a Philosophy of Medical Practice. Linköping Studies in Art and Science.
Toulmin, S.: 1993 'Knowledge and Art in the Practice of Medicine: Clinical Judgement and Historical Reconstruction', in: C. Delkeskamp-Hayes and M.A. Gardell (eds.),
Science, Technology and the Art of Medicine. Dordrecht: Kluwer Acad Publ., pp. 231–249.
Tranströmer, T: 1964,
Sanningsbarriären. Stockholm: Bonniers.
Trautman, J.: 1982, 'The Wonders of Literature in Medical Education',
Mobius 2, pp. 23–31. Copyright information
© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002