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A Dialogue on Compassion and Supererogation in Medicine

  • David C. Thomasma (a1) and Thomasine Kushner

According to Frankena, “the moral point of view is what Alison Wilde and Heather Badcock did not have.” Most of us, however, are not such extreme examples. We are capable of the moral point of view, but we fail to take the necessary time or make the required efforts. We resist pulling ourselves from other distractions to focus on the plight of others and what we might do to ameliorate their suffering. Perhaps compassion is rooted in understanding what it is that connects us with others rather than what separates us, and rests on developing sufficient awareness, to internalize what our actions, or lack of them, mean in the lives of others.

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1. For the meaning and development of the virtues in medicine, see: Pellegrino ED, Thomasma DC. The Virtues in Medical Practice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

2. Loewy EH. Suffering and the Beneficent Community. New York: SUNY Press.

3. Pope John Paul II. Humanize hospital work. Address to the Sixty-First General Chapter of the Hospital Order of St. John of God. L'Osservatore Romano 1983;01 24:3.

4. See note 1. Pellegrino , Thomasma . 1993.

5. See note 1. Pellegrino , Thomasma . 1993.

6. Flannery A. Vatican II: The Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1975. Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity.

7. De Unamuno M. [Trans Kerrigan A] The Tragic Sense of Life. Princeton, NJ: Bollingen Series, Vol LXXXV, 1972:224.

8. Pope John Paul II. Rick in mercy. The Encyclical Dives in Misericordia, 11 30, 1980. Washington, DC: U.S. Catholic Conference, 1981:45.

9. Bergsma J, Thomasma DC. Health Care: Its Psychosocial Dimensions. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Duquesne University Press, 1982.

10. Pellegrino ED, Thomasma DC. Health and Healing [published first in Italian] Rome: Editions Deshoines [In press].

11. Pellegrino ED, Thomasma DC. For the Patient's Good: The Restoration of Beneficence in Health Care. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

12. Welie J. Viktor Von Gebstattel's. Theoretical Medicine 1995; 16(2)

13. Von Gebstattel V. Theoretical Medicine 1995; 16.

14. Jonsen A. What does life support support? In: Winslade W, Ed. Personal Choices and Public Commitments: Perspectives on the Humanities. Galveston, Texas: Institute for the Medical Humanities, 1988: 61–9, at pp. 6667.

15. Raffin TA, Shurkin JN, Sinkler W III. Intensive Care: Facing the Critical Issues. New York: W.H. Freeman & Co., 1988:185.

16. See note 15. Raffin et al. 1988:175.

17. Rouse F. Living wills in the long-term care setting. Journal of Long-Term Care Administration 1988;17:14–9.

18. Mehling A. Living wills: preventing suffering or a deadly contract? State Government News, 1988;Dec:14–5.

19. Mehling A, Neitlich S. Right-to-die backgrounder. News from the Society for the Right to Die (now Choice in Dying) 1989;Jan:12.

20. Braithwaite S, Thomasma DC. New guidelines on foregoing life-sustaining treatment in incompetent patients: an anti-cruelty policy. Annals of Internal Medicine 1986;104:711–5.

21. Illich I. Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health. New York: Pantheon, 1976:106.

22. See note 21. Illich . 1976:154.

23. Le Carré J. The Secret Pilgrim. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1991:12.

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Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • ISSN: 0963-1801
  • EISSN: 1469-2147
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-quarterly-of-healthcare-ethics
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