Nursing Philosophy 10 (1):34-41 (2009)
|Abstract||From the Middle Ages onto the 19th century, following the trend set in leper hospitals, madness was to be hidden, secluded in dark places, far away from the mainstream of society. The emergence of the mad person, perceived as inevitably different, allows to make the boundaries between reason and folly, between human and inhuman, irrelevant. If leper hospitals have almost emptied out, if there are much fewer confinement facilities, the values and images related to the leper or the mad person, as well as the sense of exclusion, continue to persist. The purpose of this paper is to show clearly that this matter of exclusion is a serious legacy that could very well apply nowadays to other figures that, each in their own way, symbolize menace or mockery. It applies notably to the aged and the dying who both appear as the opposite of modern society and its values of efficiency, productivity and profitability. The multiplication of places where old people are left to die, and the elderly who are crowded in old folks homes, stand as proof of their exclusion from society. Nevertheless, youth and old age coexist, as well as life and death. If care of others is the trait of a humane civilization, must it be understood that barbarism consists in ignoring its own humanity as well as that of others? In view of such practices of exclusion, policy statements based on recognition of human dignity, where ethical obligation rests on recognition of others and humanism, are rather paradoxical. Is this a paradox or a deadlock; a condition of exclusion or of reconnaissance?|
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