Rivista per le Medical Humanities

Graziano Martignoni
rMH 20, 2011, 11-14


The other medicine, not to be confused with complementary or alternative medicine, is a different way of looking at, and thinking of, the diseased subject and illness itself. It is as if, vis à vis pain and illness, man found in the strategies of cure (at times parallel to, at times divergent from the academic trail) the combinatory art of mixing. The victories and undeniable successes of technoscientific medicine have not reduced the recourse to the so called “other medicines”. On the contrary, one has the impression that these other gazes, these other words, these other gestures towards the disease and the diseased respond to the demands of the patients in a surprisingly more efficient way. To enquire the reasons of this paradox, to lay bare the relational and epistemic difficulties of medicine, means to deploy the critical function that is typical of the Medical Humanities. 

Mosè Cometta
rMH 20, 2011, 15-19

Language and therapy in antiquity

Words play a central role in human life. By words, not only we express our own thoughts, but we also order the world around us according to social parameters, and, as a consequence, order our inner self. This essay introduces the issue of language as therapy, focusing on the cradle of Western civilization: Ancient Greece. The main features of Greek logotherapy will be introduced, in order to stimulate reflections on our contemporary situation. What difference is there between the magic word and the pleasant speech? What does the latter have to do with the birth of philosophy? Why is Apollo so central to the development of reflection and logotherapy? The text will tackle these and other questions, attacking the issues from different perspectives. The lesson to be drawn from our origins is clear: to attain a better ordering of our lives we need to restore a holistic and non-fragmentary outlook. 

Alessandra Ferlini
rMH 20, 2011, 20-25

What shall I wear?

“What shall I wear?” is a method of psychotherapeutic intervention that, through exploration of the aesthetic sense, enquires the self-preception of the subject and the expression of his identity. The main instrument of this exploration is the clothing, considered as subjective theatre of the inner world. The approach is playful, in front of a large mirror and the multi-sensorial experience stimulates, in group work, processes of reciprocal identification. The theoretical groundings of this approach derive from the most recent results of neuroscientific research. 

Riccardo Crivelli
Carla Sargenti
Mary Ardia
Mara Jelmini
Josephine Marrocco
Barbara Tamagni
Laura Ravanelli
rMH 20, 2011, 26-31

How to live better by dressing well

In 2010, the Department of Health Sciences (DSAN) of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI), in collaboration with the Ticino Cantonal School of Tayloring and the School of Arts and Crafts of Tayloring (Scuola d’Arti e Mestieri della Sartoria – SAMS) undertook a study on the clothing of the senior citizens institutionalized at the Casa per Anziani di Riviera e Valli. The study was aimed at testing a clinical intuition, namely, that the way of dressing of elderly people, with various degrees of dependency and living in a residential structure, influences their actual experience of the self, of their own well-being and of their relation with others. To live well means to feel visible, to be recognized and to be able of exercising one’s own autonomy, i.e. the possibility of deciding on one’s self. It is therefore critically important to make the years elderly citizens spend in residential structures as lively and participative as possible. The relation with caregivers is one of the pillars of the process. We tested whether the introduction of prototype clothes, whose fabric and cut allows the recognition of continuity in the development of the self, could enhance the feeling of well being in connection with dressing apraxias. This perspective makes reference neither to fashion as an aesthetic phenomenon, nor to the deficits that characterize most of the patients. It rather focuses on dressing as a space of encounter, a temporal place of actions, thoughts, feelings and shearable meanings. 

Rossella Schneiter Malpangotti
rMH 20, 2011, 32-35

Metamedicine: understanding the messages of our body

Since birth, each of us lives in her daily experience events that are emotionally meaningful and that leave traces in our emotional memory. Our past experience influences our present mode of action, often unconsciously. In the face of the events of life we feel emotions, and provide answers that at times take the form of discomfort, malaises, symptoms or diseases. The attention to, and understanding of, the messages of the body can help us comprehend the emotions we are unaware of, and that trigger biological responses in our organism; their transformation allows us to overcome them and to recover psycho-physical harmony and well-being. Claudia Rainville invented an approach, named Metamedicine, witch allows the subject to undertake a process of discovery and understanding of one’s self, in order to overcome suffering and recover our well-being and health. 

Stéphanie Selmoni
rMH 20, 2011, 36-39

The union of psychology and aura reading

 The aura is the energetic body that surrounds us. It is a part of our selves. Aura reading is a perception affording a picture and experience of our existence in a subtle, parallel dimension, centred on the existential aim of increasing the consciousness of our existence, finding a balance and psycho-physical equilibrium. The aura allows us to interpret the messages our body sends us. This reading of our energetic body conveys information on the psycho-physical state of the individual. Often, the simple emergence of this information is in itself beneficial to the wellbeing of the subject.

Claudio Mustacchi
rMH 20, 2011, 40-45

Noone follows the straight path. Reflections on art, normality, disability

Ethics, art and aesthetics represent the highest products of the human mind towards the benefit of all. Historically, the public concern towards disability has developed from an ethical phase (with the charitable initiatives), to the scientific one, which opened the way to important methodological progresses. We are now witnessing the outset of the “aesthetic” phase, which takes the move from the full acknowledgement to disability of the right of artistic and cultural citizenship, sustained by patterns of social intervention favouring emancipation and autonomy. The right to art, to the enjoyment and production of works of art and culture, is a universal human right belonging to every citizen, even in conditions of physical or mental disability. The aesthetic phase of social action towards disability was also favoured by the changes in the arts, which in the 1900s – at the time some theorized the elimination of the different and the disabled – questioned the social norms and lend an understanding ear to the language of the weak and marginalized, in order to create a new art that could be nourishment for the whole of humankind, with no exclusions. In this connection we can mention the Joseph Beuys’ works of total art, Paul Klee’s workings on infantile or primitive writings, or Woody Guthry’s songs on the victims of the Great Depression. The last two, in their personal experience of invalidating diseases remind us that the divide between normality and disability is illusory (Klee – sclerodermy; Guthrie – Huntington’s disease). The dialogue between the social world and that of art is open, and it is spreading in Ticino as in the rest of Europe. 

Arnaldo Benini
rMH 20, 2011, 89-92

Man is his own brain

Man is what the brain makes of him. The neurosciences demonstrate and confirm that the I, the spirit and the immaterial soul, which for centuries were considered by religion and philosophy as the moving forces of human life, are the product of the mechanisms of the brain’s cortex. The identification of oneself with one’s own brain is not a surrender, but a recognition of reality. The brain, that studies itself against the criteria of science it developed, transmits to conscience the knowledge of a mechanism casually emerged from evolution, fragile, complicated, with no clue and with casual and random mechanisms. 

Bernard Baertschi
rMH 20, 2011, 93-99

The impact of the neurosciences on our moral concepts

The recent and spectacular developments of the neurosciences has prompted the emergence of a new field in bioethics: neuroethics. Neuroethics has in particular the task of examining the impact of the progress in our knowledge of the brain on our social, ethical and philosophical conceptions. In this paper, I will study two neuroethical problems: moral responsibility and the role of emotions in moral decisions. Moral responsibility requires that the agent understands what he is doing and is able to control his deeds. A cerebral lesion sometimes prevents it, and neuroscience can give us crucial informations about the effect of cerebral lesions. But it can go further in my mind and puts us in the way to solve the free will problem. For long, emotions have been considered an obstacle to moral behaviour. Morality must be based on reason, not on emotions. Recent advances in neuroscience raise doubts against this traditional thesis: emotions play a crucial role in moral decision making. But the story is not so simple: a causal role is not a justificatory role, and some individuals have a problem with their emotions, but not with their moral sense. Neuroscientific research must go deeper on this topic, before we come to a solution.