Desires in Palliative Medicine. Five Models of the Physician-Patient Interaction on Palliative Treatment Related to Hellenistic Therapies of Desire

Huijer, Marli; Widdershoven, Guy
June 2001
Ethical Theory & Moral Practice;Jun2001, Vol. 4 Issue 2, p143
Academic Journal
In this paper, we explore the desires that play a role at the palliative stage and relate them to various approaches to patient autonomy. What attitude can physicians and other caregivers take to the desires of patients at the palliative stage? We examine this question by introducing five physicians who are consulted by Jackie, an imaginary patient with metastatic lung carcinoma. By combining the models of the physician-patient relationship developed by Emanuel and Emanuel (1992) and the Hellenistic approaches to desires analyzed by Nussbaum (1994), five different ways of dealing with desires in the context of palliative care are sketched. The story of Jackie shows that desires are to a certain extent responsive to reasoning. In the palliative process, that can be a reason to devote attention to the desires of patients and caregivers and to determine which desires need to be fulfilled, which are less important, and how they are linked to emotions the patient has.


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