Hope and Deception
Bioethics. 1999 Jul; 13(3-4): 343-357.
Convinced of hope's therapeutic benefits, physicians routinely support patients' false hopes, often with family collusion and vague, euphemistic diagnoses and prognoses, if not overt lies. Bioethicists charge them with paternalistic violations of Patient Autonomy. There are, I think, too many morally significant exceptions to accept the physician's rationales, or the bioethicist's criticisms, stated sweepingly. Physicians need to take account of the harms caused by loss of hopes, especially false hopes due to deception, as well as of the harms of successfully maintained deceptive hopes. As for autonomy, hopes -- even if based on deception -- can protect and enhance autonomy, understood broadly as the capacity to lead a chosen or embraced life. Deception aside, patients' hopes often rest on beliefs about
Allowing to Die; Autonomy; Beneficence; Children; Deception; Disclosure; Emotions; Ethics; Family Members; Family Relationship; Futility; Life; Motivation; Parents; Patients; Physicians; Placebos; Principle-Based Ethics; Professional Family Relationship; Prognosis; Risks and Benefits; Trust; Truth Disclosure;
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