A Medical Sublime

  • Bradley LewisEmail author


Inspired by a passage from Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, this article considers the possibility of a “medical sublime.” It works through a history of the sublime in theory and in the arts, from ancient times to the present. It articulates therapeutic dimensions of the sublime and gives contemporary examples of its medical relevance. In addition, it develops the concept of sublime-based stress-reduction workshops and programs. These workshops bring the sublime out of the library and the museum into the lives of the healthcare community—patients, families, clinicians, staff, concerned others—in the service of better navigating human vulnerability and finitude. Opening the cannon of aesthetic theory and the arts as resources for the human condition is at the heart of health humanities. The sublime can be an invaluable tool in this task.


The sublime Medicine Therapeutics Aesthetic theory Existential suffering Death and dying Longinus Kant Nietzsche Wordsworth Shelley Tolstoy Lyotard Foucault Abstract expressionism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gallatin School of Individualized StudyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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