On Evoking Clinical Meaning
Zaner, Richard M.
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 2006 December; 31(6): 655-666
It was in the course of one particular clinical encounter that I came to realize the power of narrative, especially for expressing clinically presented ethical matters. In Husserlian terms, the mode of evidence proper to the unique and the singular is the very indirection that is the genius of story-telling. Moreover, the clinical consultant is unavoidably changed by his or her clinical involvement. The individuals whose situation is at issue have their own stories that need telling. Clinical ethics is in this sense a way of helping patients, families, and, yes, health providers to discover and give voice to those stories. In this way, clinical ethics is an evoking of meaning. Kierkegaard understood this well: Indirect communication is the language for the unique and the otherwise inexpressible.
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