Suffering and the goals of medicine

Med Health Care Philos. 1998;1(2):125-31. doi: 10.1023/a:1009923104175.


Taking as its starting point a recent statement of the Goals of Medicine published by the Hastings Centre, this paper argues against the dualistic distinction between pain and suffering. It uses an Aristotelian conception of the person to suggest that malady, pain, and disablement are objective forms of suffering not dependent upon any state of consciousness of the victim. As a result, medicine effectively relieves suffering when it cures malady and relieves pain. There is no medical mission to confront the spiritual condition of the patient.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disease / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Holistic Health
  • Humans
  • Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Philosophy, Medical*
  • Sick Role
  • Spiritualism
  • Spirituality
  • Stress, Psychological*