The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine, and How to Live

University of Chicago Press (2004)
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Abstract

Contemporary health care often lacks generosity of spirit, even when treatment is most efficient. Too many patients are left unhappy with how they are treated, and too many medical professionals feel estranged from the calling that drew them to medicine. Arthur W. Frank tells the stories of ill people, doctors, and nurses who are restoring generosity to medicine--generosity toward others and to themselves. The Renewal of Generosity evokes medicine as the face-to-face encounter that comes before and after diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, and surgeries. Frank calls upon the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, and literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin to reflect on stories of ill people, doctors, and nurses who transform demoralized medicine into caring relationships. He presents their stories as a source of consolation for both ill and professional alike and as an impetus to changing medical systems. Frank shows how generosity is being renewed through dialogue that is more than the exchange of information. Dialogue is an ethic and an ideal for people on both sides of the medical encounter who want to offer more to those they meet and who want their own lives enriched in the process. The Renewal of Generosity views illness and medical work with grace and compassion, making an invaluable contribution to expanding our vision of suffering and healing.

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