Human Dimension in Medical Care: Insights From Buber and Marcel
Southern medical journal 2010 Dec; 103(12): 1210-3
Martin Buber's concept of inclusion and Gabriel Marcel's notion of availability are used to cast new light on the human dimension in medical care. Buber's notion of inclusion indicates that clinical empathy should involve both cognitive and affective elements. It is argued that empathy is more than simply labeling a feeling state. Including oneself in the inner reality of the patient involves recognizing what her suffering feels like. Marcel's work on availability is used to point out how crucially important it is for the clinician to open herself to the suffering of the patient if she is to offer genuinely compassionate care. Availability requires a fundamental openness to the other that Marcel refers to as "in-cohesion" or porosity. This is identified as an essential quality in the caring clinician. Marcel's approach to overcoming a lack of compassion is also discussed.
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