Rejecting medical humanism: medical humanities and the metaphysics of medicine

J Med Humanit. 2008 Mar;29(1):15-25. doi: 10.1007/s10912-007-9048-7.


The call for a narrative medicine has been touted as the cure-all for an increasingly mechanical medicine. It has been claimed that the humanities might create more empathic, reflective, professional and trustworthy doctors. In other words, we can once again humanise medicine through the addition of humanities. In this essay, I explore how the humanities, particularly narrative medicine, appeals to the metaphysical commitments of the medical institution in order to find its justification, and in so doing, perpetuates a dualism of humanity that would have humanism as the counterpoint to the biopsychosociologisms of our day.

MeSH terms

  • Humanism*
  • Humans
  • Metaphysics*
  • Narration*
  • United States