Towards authentic conversations. Authenticity in the patient-professional relationship

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the significance of the existential notion of authenticity for medical ethics. This is done by analyzing authenticity and examining its implications for the patient-professional relationship and for ethical decision-making in medical situations. It is argued that while authenticity implies important demand for individual responsibility, which has therapeutic significance, it perpetuates ideas which are antithetical both to authentic interaction between patients and professionals and to fruitful deliberation of moral dilemmas. In order to counteract these consequences, an alternative idea of authenticity is introduced. According to this idea, authenticity is not regarded primarily as individual sovereignty, but as an ability to participate in a dialogue in which the subjectivity of both partners is respected. Such practice, based on mutual trust and responsibility, would enhance common decision-making and overcome the alienation between patients and professionals.
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