A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne
K. Young, Associate Editor.
Recently, I returned from addressing a conference in London, one that
had been convened to discuss issues relevant to what was called somewhat vaguely
“the medical humanities.” Among the few hundred attendees were
poets, physicians, filmmakers, nurses, sociologists, literary theorists, art
therapists, ethicists, photographers, medical students, hospice workers, historians,
representatives of public and private grant-making organizations, musicians,
philosophers, occupational and physical therapists, dancers, and patients—many
of whom, like me, owing allegiance to more than one such group. The gathering
was also both international and multicultural, with Americans and Britons
of various roots (Indian and Latino, Nigerian and Scottish) mixing with their
Chinese, German, Cuban, Scandinavian, and Australian counterparts. The greatest
paradox of the meeting, however, soon became apparent: here we were, scientists
and artists from across the globe, all deeply concerned about the growing
dehumanization of medical care, yet quite unsure about under which inspiring
banner, exactly, we might most effectively unite to combat it. “So,
what are the medical humanities, anyway?” asked a savvy medical student
during a break as we nibbled on cookies, neatly summing up the vast yet unspoken
problem we had posed to ourselves from the outset.
Campo R. “The Medical Humanities,” for Lack of a Better Term. JAMA. 2005;294(9):1009–1011. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.294.9.1009
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