Force and Presence in the World of Medicine
AbstractMedicine can not only be read with a poetic imagination, but also configured as a poetic practice, moving beyond the instrumental. The poet Wallace Stevens made a distinction between ‘Force’ and ‘Presence’—the former can be read as combative, the latter as pacific. Modern medicine has been shaped historically by the combative metaphor of a ‘war against disease’, turning medicine into a quasi-militaristic culture fond of hierarchy. This is supplemented by the metaphor of the ‘body as machine’, reducing the complex and unpredictable body to a linear, if complicated, apparatus. The two metaphors align medicine with the modern industrial–military complex that is masculine, heroic, and controlling in character. In an era in which medicine is feminising and expected to be patient-centred, collaborative (inter-professional) and transparent to the public as a democratic gesture, the industrial–military metaphor complex should no longer be shaping medicine—yet its influence is still keenly felt, especially in surgery. This continuing dominance of Force over Presence matters because it is a style running counter to the collaborative, team-based medicine needed for high levels of patient safety. Medicine will authentically democratise only as new, pacific shaping metaphors emerge: those of ‘Presence’, such as ‘hospitality’. Hospitals can once again become places of hospitality. View Full-Text
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Bleakley, A. Force and Presence in the World of Medicine. Healthcare 2017, 5, 58.
Bleakley A. Force and Presence in the World of Medicine. Healthcare. 2017; 5(3):58.Chicago/Turabian Style
Bleakley, Alan. 2017. "Force and Presence in the World of Medicine." Healthcare 5, no. 3: 58.
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