The Sense of Suffering
Rawlinson, Mary C.
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 1986 Feb; 11(1): 39-62.
Rawlinson provides a philosophical analysis of the structure and kinds of human suffering as a foundation for considering certain moral dimensions of the physician's relation to the suffering patient. One traditional analysis asserts that suffering may be comprehended in the relation between the individual soul and an ideal order. Other thinkers, however, focus on the distinction between redemptive and non-redemptive suffering, holding that the relation that is threatened or disrupted in suffering is that of the subject to himself, between his immediate condition and his own ends. Suffering may not be an evil to be effaced but may be essential to the growth and development of persons and to the production of autonomy. The author maintains that intervention is unjustified and violates the autonomy of the patient when the sufferer resists assistance and is capable of evaluating his or her life in relation to those values within which his or her identity is established. (KIE abstract)