Rivista per le Medical Humanities

Fabio Merlini
rMH 16, 2010, 11-17

The space of mobilization

This text explores the main logics leading the actual reorganization of our life spaces. The space of our experience is that of the “timeless”, a space incapable of resisting not only the circulation of images and information, but also, and mainly, an inflation of appeals, requests and imperatives calling upon the subjects, irrespective of the context in which they may find themselves. We inhabit a space that, in certain conditions, subjects the world to a treatment of liquefaction of its compartments. In this sense, we are never really “any-where”. This condition mainly depends on the fact that we find ourselves enacting praxes that weaken the prescriptiveness of the context. In such conditions, what meaning is still left to inhabiting?

Matteo Vegetti
rMH 16, 2010, 18-23

The hospital and the city

Michel Foucault taught us to look at the institution-hospital as a knowledge-power device inextricably tied to the genesis of modern space, especially urban space. Despite the numerous morphological, political and symbolic transformations occurred throughout modernity, the organization of the factory has remained the decisive paradigm for the hospital. In this respect the decline of industrial society in the post-Fordist era became an occasion to reconsider the hospital machinery within a greatly changed spatial and social logic. My hypothesis is that a radical shift of paradigm may strengthen, also thanks to the new technologies, the relation between the city and the hospital, deconstructing the heredity of the old “total institutions”.

Marco Mulazzani
rMH 16, 2010, 24-26

A piece of town called hospital

Le Corbusier’s unrealized project for the Venice hospital remains a constant source of reflections on the relations between urban structure and the care structure, as well as on the concept of “human scale” in hospital architecture. This article will explore the history of the project and its underlying architectural, urbanistic and humanistic conception.

Rossana Becarelli
rMH 16, 2010, 27-31

The farewell space

The following is an account of a wide research on the quality of the “farewell areas” in the public hospitals in Piedmont, fostered by the Region and ARESS (Health Service Agency) in the year 2009. A multidisciplinary team, including anthropologists, thanatologists, historians of funerary rituals, forensics, psychologists, architects ad health management experts, visited 52 structures (49 hospitals, 2 Residenze Sanitarie Assistenziali, and the Turin town Morgue). The visits highlighted extensive analogies among the different structures: the places devoted to the farewell to the defunct appear in the average neglected and in a state of abandonment, both in terms of architecture and of the training of personnel. It is not infrequent, for instance, that often the exit for the coffins is located close to garbage collection areas. This article reports the observations of the equipe relative to the features of the spaces, the procedures of reception of the deceased and their families, and presents a map of the visited places based on an integrated sensory approach that, at an emotional level and often unconsciously, tends with time to influence the Stimmung of loss for the survivors.

Sergio Marsicano
rMH 16, 2010, 32-39

The humanization of the hospital

The need to cast the patient back at the centre of the process of care is ever more felt, for the unease voiced by the social components involved in it: the sick citizens, their relatives, the caregivers, the administrators, the politicians. Everyday characters that may sooner or later exchange roles, thus opening up to different sensibilities. The solutions to the issue of the centrality of the patient may therefore appear suggested by a specific sensibility, regardless of objective and universal factors. Taking the move from a brief excursus on the links crossing the invisible frontier between psyche and soma, this essay will highlight one of the crossroads joining the singularity of the individual with its social and cultural differences, and marking the difference between the annihilating human reality and the expectation nourishing hopes. The ghost of death and the angst that materially expresses it are at stake in this confrontation that in the hospital brakes in the everyday life of the inhabitants that, elsewhere, live an escape from the real.The humanization of the hospital takes care of this uncomfortable presence that, without provision of adequate devices to house it, may jeopardize the care, if not the existence of the parties involved. By introducing elements of anthropological medicine, the humanization of the hospital cooperates with scientific medicine towards enhancing the wellbeing of the citizens, the efficacy of the cure and its socio-economic sustainability.

Graziano Martignoni
rMH 16, 2010, 40-45

Limen: the angel on the doorstep in six movements

The Medical Humanities, a thought airy and light, question, as if they were an “imaginary breeze”, all of Care’s visible and invisible dimensions, which, to every caregiver, find in the proximity to the “bed of the patient” their original place. A place at once concrete, imaginary and symbolic in which emerges, at times violently, or more silently, the tangle of singularity and community, dependence and autonomy, necessity and freedom. An “ethical place” par excellence. “Staying in proximity”, then, not too far as to be “lost from sight”, nor too close, to avoid violently invading the patient’s space of intimacy. On this “threshold”, so often “violable and violated” may sometimes happen that, in the eyes, in the gestures or in the words of the caregiver as well as of the cared-for, appears the character of the Angel. The “secret companion”, who knows the ways to escort the path of a man to the utmost threshold of life and suffering. Questioning the character of the “necessary Angel”, as Cacciari calls it, is a movement of the feeling, thinking and acting in itself re-ligious, as re-ligious is the deepest heart of Care itself. Religio as research of the necessary tie, as search for friendship and companionship. To this horizon tends the “ethics of care”, which the Medical Humanities try to narrate.

Franco Zambelloni
rMH 16, 2010, 63-71

Hans Jonas and the concept of responsibility

Fifteen years after his death, Hans Jonas is one of the most renown contemporary philosophers and his proposal for a new ethics is much present in the scholarly debate. This article aims at showing how Jonas’ ethics is far from being free of inconsistencies, unresolved contradictions, unwarranted assertions. Despite all this, his work and its large fame are extremely significant, in that they are to some extent an expression of the void of certainties of our time, the ensuing demand for ethics, not to mention the endemic fears of contemporary society in the midst of the technological revolution we are experiencing. In its mirroring this historical condition, Jonas’ thought is a meaningful testimony of the crisis of present society. this work will consider some fundamental issues on which Jonas’ thought has influenced the contemporary bioethical debate, such as the responsibility principle extended at the level of public policy, the heuristics of fear, freedom of research, the concept of “authentically human life” and its preservation, the essence of man and the definition of death.

Mario Picozzi
rMH 16, 2010, 72-79

The slippery slope and euthanasia

Given the issues continuously raised by cases of subjects at an advanced stage of illness, the need for legislation in matters of end of life is evermore felt. This is a risky but necessary endeavor. The law can help setting the limits, pinning down a few basic tenets as limits for action, controlling and monitoring the phenomenon. Without questioning the expediency, necessity, and usefulness of legislation on the end of life, explores whether episodes of abuse have arisen in those systems in which some form of euthanasia was allowed. The underlying issue is whether the law is actually capable of containing the phenomenon or whether it instead provides a kind of passepartout which extends the possibility of putting an end to the life of people upon their request.