Rivista per le Medical Humanities

Paolo Marino Cattorini
rMH 4, 2007, 11-16

The stories, before the theories

Every human action, to be evaluated ethically, is always interpreted as part of a meaningful narrative. Narration is the first laboratory of a moral judgment, as every action is a form of text (with its historical con-text) to be read and understood. Aesthetic and narrative categories that are applied in clinical bioethics as ethical theories, are also conceptual translations of original stories (myths, visions of the world), regarding the destiny and role of human beings in the world, stories accepted as true before being formulated in an intellectual, clear and abstract form. Applied ethics looks like a literary criticism, which intertwines biographical plots with fundamental narrations.

Fabio Pusterla
rMH 4, 2007, 17-21

Words in the hospital

Starting from a personal experience lived during adolescence (the grave illness of his father, struck by a tumour in the brain, and the successive ten years of medical and surgical intervention), the author tries to analyse his difficult and critical relationship with the hospital as an institution and with traditional medicine. The narration of the medical and surgical mishaps experienced by the protagonist, and of his physiological reactions and his subjection to the neurosurgeon, tries to point out some objective risks: that relating to the militarization in caretaking which prevents the patient to nurture a balanced rapport with his sickness, and that relating to the economical aspects which are related to a medicine which is increasingly more dependant on advanced technology. The text is nonetheless characterised by its narrative characteristic.

Gilberto Isella
rMH 4, 2007, 22-34

Poetic intertwinings around suffering

Western poetry, starting with the Greeks, is profoundly rooted in suffering. One of the major interpreters of cosmic suffering, in the modern age, was Leopardi. His pessimistic vision of life was significantly developed between the decadent and nihilistic movements of the Eighteen and Nineteen hundreds. From that moment, poets gave more and more space to figures and metaphors representing physical and existential distress of the disillusioned human being, deprived of solid metaphysical horizons. Attention towards the body, the living in general, represents a change in prospective in the contemporary poetic representation of pain. A particular interest in corporeity is found in female poetry. The phenomenology of sufferance is a primary subject. also in the poetic experience of Gilberto Isella.

Ruggero D'Alessandro
rMH 4, 2007, 41-45

The extreme metaphor

Two months after the death of the great filmmaker, Ingmar Bergman, a short analysis of Cries and Whispers (1973) could be interesting. The film depicts the final days of Agnes who is suffering from cancer. For the atmospheric setting: a castle in the Swedish countryside at the end of XIX century and the relationship between the Agnes’s sisters, the director stays within a restricted blood – like palette of colours – becoming a pictorial metaphor for death. The dialogues are dramatic, usual for Bergman, and Agnes’s equally dramatic crises before dying, arouses only aversion in her sisters; both afraid she might die, but also hoping she does. Only the servant is able to offer tenderness and human solidarity. What’s the meaning of existence? To be saved by giving one’s body and soul. As in so many works by Bergman the great items of death, pain, fear to leave the earth and selfishness, come into being in Cries and Whispers.

Gianfranco Domenighetti
rMH 4, 2007, 75-79

The future of the health care system

The process of medicalization within life and society, and in particular the one based upon the diffusion of technological innovation and the industrial construction of illnesses, induces an inflated growth in demands and consumption, with important consequences for the future financial capacities in mortgage expenses and therefore the durability of «universal» sanitary systems. Beyond this dynamic of expanding demands there is another, opposite dynamic, consequent of the globalisation of the economy, which will create further difficulties in the raising of the necessary financial support of the «welfare» system. Politics of rationalization, of implicit or explicit rationing, of definition of access priorities, are therefore inevitable. The new models which will preside over «tragic choices» will be based on clinical and economic efficiency. However pragmatic solutions will be decisive in allowing the individuals to have an «exit» worthy, fair, fitting, due and necessary when «catastrophic» individual situations call for «compassion» and «hope», and not only on economic and clinic efficiency, or even the capacity to pay.