Suffering, Whole Person Care, and the Goals of Medicine

  • Eric J. CassellEmail author


Bodies do not suffer, only persons do [1]. This fundamental fact of suffering is revealed because in all the situations in which suffering comes about the meaning of the occurrence to the person and the person’s perception of the future are crucial. Whether the stimulus is, for example, pain or other physical symptoms, or perhaps bereavement, or even hopelessness, the meaning of what is happening and its perceived future are crucial in determining whether suffering will follow. Bodies have nociception and bodies may have neuroendocrine responses to emotional stimuli, but bodies do not have a sense of the future and bodies do not know meanings, only persons do.


Adaptiveness Cognition Emotion Function Suffering Person Whole person Meanings Sickness Symptoms Pain Intactness Integrity Personal Self-conflict Purpose Individual Lonely Coherent Empirical self Existential Goals Disorder Disease Functioning Communication Functional complex Dailiness Sociology Anthropology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emeritus Professor of Public HealthWeill Medical College of Cornell UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of MedicineMcGill UniversityShawnee on DelawareUSA

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